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Jeremy Lindblad, Australian business development director of adventure specialist Lindblad Expeditions, today welcomed the deal that will deliver fresh funds for new ships and more opportunities for Australian passengers.
The line announced yesterday it has received a fresh injection of funds which will enable the building of two new expedition ships and the potential for more acquisitions.
In a major US$439 million deal, Lindblad has merged with US-listed Capitol Acquisitions Corp. The new company Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc will be listed on NASDAQ Stock Market in New York in May.
“(This) transaction will position Lindblad to move into a new phase in our history and pursue future growth opportunities as a public company,” said founder Sven-Olof Lindblad. “The additional resources and strong balance sheet will allow us to meet increasing guest demand by expanding our fleet with new vessels and opportunistically seeking accretive strategic acquisitions.’’
Mr Lindblad’s son has developed a strong business in Australia since the line acquired the National Geographic Orion.
He told Cruise Passenger the company will now have greater capacity and can pursue further growth opportunities.
“This is great news for Australian passengers as they will now have more choices and greater diversity in expedition itineraries.
“Australia is a huge market for us – it is our second largest market after the US/Canada.’’ About 20,000 passengers travel with Lindblad Expeditions annually.
Lindblad operates 10 vessels, six are owned and the remaining four charted. It is a leader in expedition cruises – one of the fastest growing segments of the cruise industry.
Adventure travel grew 65 per cent annually from 2009 to 2012 into a US$263 billion industry according to a US study.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said that specialty cruises grew by 21 per cent annually from 2009 to 2014 and are expected to continue to experience double digit passenger growth.
Under the terms of the merger, Capitol would hold 50 per cent of the stock and Sven-Olof Lindblad and other owner-shareholders would retain 49 per cent.
Jeremy Lindblad will continue in Sydney for “the time being but nothing is set in stone,’’ he said.