Goal of RCCL-Princess merger: To become top (sea) dog

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NEW YORK -- Richard Fain, who will head the company formed by the previously reported merger of P&O Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., made it clear the new firm would aim to overtake Carnival Corp. as the world's most profitable cruise operator.

Although the new company, which has not been named but is informally being called RCP Cruise Lines, will be the industry's largest in terms of berth capacity, its nearly $6 billion market value still trails industry leader Carnival Corp., whose market capitalization totals about $15 billion. Fain, currently Royal Caribbean's chairman and chief executive officer, will head the new company under the same title.

Peter Ratcliffe, currently president and chief executive officer of P&O Princess, will become managing director and chief operating officer of the combined group. P&O Princess's Nick Luff will be the chief financial officer. The new company, to be based in Miami, will have a fleet of 41 ships with about 75,000 berths, and 14 ships on order through 2005.

Under the deal, P&O Princess, the world's third-largest cruise operator in terms of berth capacity, would hold 50.7% of the merged group, and Royal Caribbean, the second-largest operator, will hold 49.3%. The deal is scheduled to close in the second quarter of 2002 pending regulatory approval.

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