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Cruise operation sold

Cruise operation sold
Serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou has sold his boutique cruise operation easyCruise to Greece?s largest coastal ferry company, Hellenic Seaways.

Serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou has sold his boutique cruise operation easyCruise to Greece"s largest coastal ferry company, Hellenic Seaways.

Serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou has sold his boutique cruise operation easyCruise to Greece"s largest coastal ferry company, Hellenic Seaways.

Confirmation of the deal has been issued by Hellenic Seaways but as of Thursday afternoon there was no report on the website of Sea Star Capital, the Cyprus-listed shipping vehicle that controls the Greek ferry giant.

Last month Mr Haji-Ioannou bought into a Sea Star share increase, taking about ?9m ($12.6m) worth of stock, and the group was at pains this week to underline he will remain involved at a high level.

Under the deal the flat consideration for the business was ?7.5m but this could not immediately be confirmed.

Details of the acquisition remained scarce, but executives at easyCruise in Athens said there is a franchising element for which easyGroup will get compensation.

Along with the 574-berth easyCruise Life, a former ferry introduced last year to replace a smaller ship, the buyer is acquiring full rights to the easyCruise brand throughout the Mediterranean and is committed to running cruises under the brand launched by Mr Haji-Ioannou in 2005.

?For the end-consumer nothing much will change, except that there will be a greater number of choices,? said chief executive Fotis Kalatzis, who joined easyCruise last year.

?There will be more ships under the easy brand in the Mediterranean,? he said.

Hellenic Seaways operates a fleet of about 30 conventional and fast ferries in Greek waters but has been rumoured to have hopes of expanding into cruise operations for some time.

Passenger shipping sources in Piraeus said that a number of options to rapidly expand the fleet from one ship are being mulled over by management at Hellenic Seaways, including the drafting in of a ferry from the Anek Lines fleet.

One candidate is believed to be the Eleftherios Venizelos, but that has been chartered to Tunisians.

?We have numerous options,? said Mr Kalatzis. ?No final decision has been taken but we hope to make a decision on the fleet by end-September.?

EasyCruise was originally launched as an alternative, no-frills product to appeal to younger passengers likely to book their journey by internet, following the model set by EasyJet.

But it has lately become a more conventional cruise product, with such measures as introducing full-board for passengers.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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