Carnival renews call to delay Princess vote

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The Independent Online

The cruise line company Carnival will this week step up its campaign to win P&O Princess Cruises by again urging it to delay a crucial shareholder meeting to vote on the planned merger with Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Carnival will also claim that the "poison pill" arrangements put in place as part of P&O's planned merger with Royal Caribbean, would cost $400m, double its initial $200m estimate.

Carnival fired off a £3.2bn hostile bid for P&O last month in an attempt to scupper the planned nil-premium merger with Royal Caribbean.

P&O, which originally planned to put the proposed Royal Caribbean deal to the vote this month, delayed that meeting until 14 February to give Carnival more time to reconsider the terms of its own offer. Carnival is now pressing for the meeting to be put back again on the grounds that the competition authorities should be given the chance to examine and rule on both deals at the same time. "That would give shareholders the opportunity to consider both deals with the antitrust business out of the way," said the source.

The company, which will this week issue a formal statement on its plans, is expected to point out that P&O could, despite its protests, delay its 14 February EGM until mid-November.

One industry source said: "P&O said they could only delay that meeting until 14 February. Well, looking through the document, it appears they could delay it further. It now appears that that is possible."

A spokeswoman for P&O said, however, the company would not delay its meeting any longer. "We've got a very good deal on the table with Royal Caribbean. The board believes that deal is superior to the proposition Carnival have put forward," she said.

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