Saudi fund swoops to take stake in Carnival Corporation

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has acquired a minority stake in cruise giant Carnival Corporation.

The Public Investment Fund based in Riyadh disclosed that it had taken an 8.2% shareholding in the world’s largest cruise company at the end of March.

The value of the shareholding in Carnival is estimated at around $370 million.

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The deal gave the global investor 43.5 million shares in Carnival Corporation, parent company of brands such as P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

The fund’s investment in the company took it over the 5% level, making a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) necessary.

The Public Investment Fund is among the largest of its type in the world with assets estimated at $320 billion.

Carnival is among many major cruise firms hit hard by the global coronavirus pandemic which has led to outbreaks of the disease on ships and a number of deaths.

The corporation has been bolstering its financial position with multi-billion dollar loan and debt funding as global cruise operations ground to a halt due to progressive port closures as countries lockdown in the battle against the virus.

The Saudi investment is seen a sign of investor confidence at a time when cruise companies have been battered by worldwide travel stagnation.

Shares in dual listed Carnival Corporation surged by up to 20% to $10.04 on Monday in New York after the Saudi stake was disclosed. The shares have lost more than three-quarters of their value this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Rivals Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings saw a knock-on benefit from The Public Investment Fund disclosure, with their shares rising by 21% and 18% respectively.

The fund’s interests include Indian budget hotel chain OYO and Uber.

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