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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Cruise line merger is approved
P&O Princess's Ocean Princess
The merger still needs clearance in the US
The planned merger between the cruise liners P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean has been approved in the UK.

The Competition Commission said that it was unlikely to have a significant impact on competition.

And it concluded that the merger "could not be expected to operate against the public interest".

But before the merger can go ahead it must be approved by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - its decision is expected in August.

Shareholders from both companies must also give their backing.

Carnival bid

The deal values P&O Princess at 3.7bn ($5.5bn).

But Carnival, currently the world's largest cruise group, has made a 4.3bn hostile counter offer for P&O Princess.

Carnival's bid is being considered by the European Commission and the US FTC.

Last month Carnival said it would be prepared to divest P&O Princess's UK operation to win approval for its bid.

But it said it was not prepared to sell its Cunard Line, which includes the QE11.

Analysts said that just because the Competition Commission had approved the P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean merger, there was no guarantee that US regulators would take the same view.

And the alternative deal from Carnival was still a possibility.

But P&O Princess's chief executive Peter Ratcliffe said he was pleased with the Competition Commission's decision.

See also:

27 May 02 | Business
18 Feb 02 | Business
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