Windstar's buyer mum on plans

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TAC Cruise LLC is keeping mum about plans for Windstar Cruises until its $39 million cash acquisition of the luxury line's parent company, Ambassadors International, is completed.

The firm is a unit of Xanterra Holding Corp., which is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz's Anschutz Corp.

Company officials are "not ready to talk about Windstar Cruises until the sale closes," a spokesman for Xanterra said. The closing was expected before the end of May.

Ambassadors on April 1 filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, and had agreed to sell all of its assets to Whippoorwill Associates, a private investment group and its biggest creditor. TAC Cruise entered its surprise bid during a two-day auction supervised by the bankruptcy court on May 16 and 17. The court approved the sale on May 19.

Xanterra Holding Corp. is the parent company of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which owns and operates lodging and restaurant concessions at eight national parks and at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Just as Anschutz's purchase of Xanterra in 2008 was its foray into the hospitality industry, Windstar represents its entry into the cruise market.

According to a spokeswoman at Windstar Cruises, the sale to Xanterra includes the assets of Ambassadors' former Majestic America Line operations, which were discontinued in 2008. The assets include the river ships Delta Queen and Columbia Queen.

Windstar's ships have been operating normally since the Chapter 11 filing, and Ambassadors and Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz said all financial obligations, including agency commissions, were being met.

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