ResidenSea Postpones Stock Issue

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LONDON -- Privately owned ResidenSea postponed for three months a stock issue to raise more than one-third of the $545 million it needs to fund the world's first floating ownership resort.

But company spokesman Bryn Freberg told Travel Weekly he still expected the 86,000-ton ship, World of ResidenSea, to be delivered on April 30, 2001 -- the original contract date.

He denied reports circulating in Oslo, Norway, that the project was at the point of collapse. "We will not be filing for bankruptcy tomorrow or in the foreseeable future," he said.

ResidenSea was scheduled to raise $190 million on the Oslo stock market by June 30, but because share prices have dipped sharply this deadline has been delayed until Sept. 30.

Freberg said it was possible the firm would go to the U.S. to raise some of the cash. "Perhaps it was wrong to try to raise all the cash in Oslo," he said.

He disclosed that the company had completed $275 million worth of debt financing out of a total of $375 million. Thus far, 68 apartments on the ship have been sold for a total of $130 million, and another 17, worth $50 million, have been reserved. There have been no cancellations so far in what is the first ship in the cruise industry to sell rather than rent cabins.

The $545 million price tag makes it the most expensive cruise ship ever built. In all, ResidenSea has 286 apartments to sell at prices ranging from $1.5 million to $6.6 million each.

The order was placed with German shipyard Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft at the beginning of May. It is thought unlikely that this latest setback will influence the shipyard, which is eager to get back into passenger shipbuilding.

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