LONDON -- The returns are in, but the fate of a merger between P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is still undecided after shareholders here voted to delay a meeting on the proposed deal.

After a marathon vote-counting session that lasted through the day Feb. 14, the tally showed 62.5% of voting shares favored adjourning the meeting.

P&O Princess subsequently announced the meeting was "indefinitely postponed." Shareholders will be given at least 14 days notice in advance of the rescheduled meeting.

The adjournment was a victory for Carnival Corp., the largest cruise line, which had submitted a hostile bid for P&O Princess. Carnival had encouraged shareholders to adjourn the meeting, thereby delaying the vote on the Royal Caribbean deal and giving shareholders more time to study Carnival's proposal.

Micky Arison, Carnival's chief executive officer, said he was "delighted" with the adjournment.

"We are committed to giving P&O Princess shareholders the opportunity to accept our increased offer and we will focus all our efforts on securing regulatory clearance," Arison said.

But the adjournment was seen as a setback for Royal Caribbean and the board of P&O Princess, both of which had encouraged shareholders to vote in favor of a merger since the plan was announced in November.

Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean, said, "We are obviously disappointed at the outcome of these meetings."

Fain said Royal Caribbean would consult with its advisor to determine the implication of the adjournment and its impact on the proposed merger.


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