(Photo Credit: Flickr user GoboNdc via Creative Commons license)


ROYAL Caribbean’s two largest owners – Norway’s Wilhelmsen family and America’s Pritzker family – have dissolved their shareholders agreement, the cruise giant confirmed. The Wilhelmsen family, through A Wilhelmsen AS, owns 19% of Royal Caribbean. The Pritzkers, through Cruise Associates, own 15%. For many years, the two owners agreed to vote their shares for four board nominees of the other. Royal Caribbean confirmed after market close yesterday that this arrangement has ended. Royal Caribbean’s articles of incorporation required the approval of at least one board member from each family for certain corporate actions. Now that the Wilhelmsen-Pritzker pact has been dissolved, the cruise company no longer requires such approval. The Pritzker family’s business holdings are controlled by a collection of trusts. Royal Caribbean said: “It is our understanding that with the termination of the shareholders agreement, Cruise Associates plan to distribute its Royal Caribbean shares to its partners which, in turn, may further transfer shares to their respective owners.” Royal Caribbean maintained that the situation does not imply that either family has a negative view of the industry, nor is it related to financial turmoil. “We understand that this is simply a private matter between the two parties,” it said. The question ahead is whether the demise of the shareholders agreement is a precursor to ownership divestments by either of the two owners – for example, portions of the Pritzker family. “We have no information about the ongoing intentions of the two shareholders,” Royal Caribbean said.

So what does this mean to the end cruiser? Absolutely nothing. What does this mean to the industry. Probably nothing but it is interesting this news comes a month after RCI disclosed an accounting error and executives face a claim of stock fraud. BUT in reality its probably more tied into the tanking economy and the looming thread of a second recession.