Premier Parent Adds Two to Board

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MIAMI -- Cruise Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Premier Cruises, named international investor Ike Kier chairman. The announcement was made by president and chief executive officer Larry Magnin. Kier replaces Premier founder Kristian Stensby, who remains on the board.

The board also invited Henrik von Platen, a Swedish shipping executive, into its ranks, bringing the board's membership to five.

An executive close to the company said the moves would increase investor confidence in Premier as it seeks to raise about $175 million in high-yield, private-placement bonds, possibly within a month.

Magnin confirmed that another goal of the company in 1998 is to issue an initial public offering of its stock.

He said that Stensby had requested to be relieved as chairman while retaining his investment in the company and board membership.

Stensby, a former Norwegian shipping and cruise line executive, put together Cruise Holdings in 1996 as a platform for operating and marketing midsize, vintage liners. He is one of the three principal investors in the company who together own a 72% share, Magnin said. Other investments came from Norwegian financial institutions and individuals, he added.

News of Stensby's resignation as chairman came as the company said it was backing out of a previously announced deal to acquire the Regent Sun of bankrupt Regency Cruises, raising questions about Premier's financial condition. But Magnin said the dropping of the deal for the ship was unrelated to Stensby's departure. "The bank owning the ship would not allow us to take a critical look at all the engineering areas, and the costs promised to escalate out of sight."

Magnin said that Premier's booking status was strong, with 87% of inventory booked for the first quarter and 40% for the year The company has grown rapidly since 1996, when it acquired an interest in Seawind Cruises and purchased Carnival Cruise Line's Festivale, now the Island Breeze.

Early in 1997, it acquired Dolphin Cruise Line and its three ships. And last April, it acquired Premier Cruise Line and its remaining Big Red Boat, the Oceanic. In October, it acquired Holland America Line's former flagship, the Rotterdam V, which it renamed the Rembrandt.

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