Ambassadors Int'l in deal to buy American West Steamboat Co.

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Ambassadors International agreed to acquire Seattle-based American West Steamboat Co. from Oregon Rail Holdings.

Under the agreement Ambassadors Cruise Group, a newly created division of Ambassadors International, will pay $1 for 100% of the shares of American West. In addition, Ambassadors will pay $4.3 million of American Wests outstanding debt and assume $41.5 million in long-term, fixed-rate debt. Ambassadors will also throw in 250,000 shares of Ambassadors International, subject to forfeiture if American West doesnt meet certain financial goals.

David Giersdorf, former executive vice president of marketing and sales at Holland America Line, will lead the new cruise division at Ambassadors as president and COO. Most of American Wests staff is expected to stay on, according to Ambassadors president and CEO, Joe Ueberroth.

The sale is expected to close in January, pending approval of debt covenant amendments by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

The new operation is expected to bring an additional $41 million in revenue to Ambassadors, according to Brian Schaefgen, Ambassadors CFO.

The company will operate its 2006 schedule as previously published and will look to make innovative itinerary changes in 2007.

Founded in 1995, American West Steamboat Co. operates historical and nature-oriented cruises on the Columbia and Snake rivers, Alaskas Inside Passage and Puget Sound. It operates two modernized replicas of historic sternwheeler ships, the 231-passenger Empress of the North and the 150-passenger Queen of the West.

Ueberroth said Ambassadors is looking for complementary acquisitions in the niche cruise segment.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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