KUALA LUMPUR (June 23): Genting Hong Kong Ltd has sold operating entity Crystal Cruises and two cruise ships under the latter to private equity group Heritage Group, which is led by billionaire Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio under the planned restructuring of Genting Hong Kong, which is facing severe financial difficulties following Covid-19-driven global movement restrictions.
The Maritime Executive reported that Heritage Group confirmed on Wednesday (June 22, 2022) that it had purchased Crystal Cruises and its two cruise ships — Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony — through A&K Travel Group.
The report however did not specify the purchase price for Crystal Cruises although it was earlier reported that Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, both of which were under arrest in Bahamian waters for more than four months, were sold on June 14, 2022 for a combined US$128 million (about RM564 million).
"Lefebvre d'Ovidio acquired 80% of A&K in May 2019, along with 20% which is owned by Geoffrey Kent, son of the founders of the company.
"The two ships will resume service in 2023 after undergoing extensive refurbishment and will operate under the revived Crystal Cruises brand that has also been acquired by A&K Travel Group.
"The cruise ships were reported sold last week by the Supreme Court in the Bahamas with the Crystal Symphony going for US$25 million and the newer Crystal Serenity sold for US$103 million. The brand name and other assets of the cruise line were acquired separately from the US-based liquidators of the company (Crystal Cruises)," The Maritime Executive reported.
Lefebvre d'Ovidio was quoted as saying in a press release that the cruise industry always has a special place in his heart.
“When the opportunity arose to acquire Crystal Cruises, I did not think about it twice,” he said.
It was reported that Crystal Cruises was launched by Japan’s NYK in 1991 as a prestige product that would for 20 years be the leader in luxury cruising.
The cruise line was sold to Genting Hong Kong in 2015 with elaborate plans to expand in the luxury niche with river and expedition cruises, private residences and custom-built aircraft for air tours, according to the report.
"The execution of the plan failed and by late 2021, Lefebvre d'Ovidio had already approached Genting Hong Kong about acquiring Crystal," The Maritime Executive reported.
It was reported that other segments of Crystal Cruises’ former operations are yet to be resolved.
"Rumours have linked Royal Caribbean Group and Silversea to Crystal’s luxury expedition cruise ship Crystal Endeavor, which was completed last year by MV Werften.
"Crystal’s five river cruise ships also continue to be for sale. Industry observers are saying that they expect A&K and Heritage Group to continue to make travel-related investments," The Maritime Executive reported.
Genting Hong Kong is facing severe financial difficulties after global movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which began in early 2020, disrupted the company's cruise operations, according to Genting Hong Kong.
"As previously announced, the group (Genting Hong Kong and its subsidiaries) is facing severe financial difficulties. These financial difficulties led to the presentation of a winding-up petition by the company (Genting Hong Kong) and the appointment of the joint provisional liquidators (JPLs).
"The primary duty of the JPLs is to maximise value and returns of creditors of the company," Genting Hong Kong said in a June 7, 2022 filing with The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Ltd.
Genting Hong Kong said that given the severe liquidity constraints faced by the company and its subsidiaries, the JPLs do not consider that it is in the best interest of the group, its creditors and other stakeholders to allocate the very scarce resources of the group for the preparation of Genting Hong Kong's 2021 annual results.
"Furthermore, as disclosed in the previous announcements, there is currently no audit committee to review the 2021 annual results. Accordingly, the company (Genting Hong Kong) is currently unable to publish the 2021 annual results or to despatch the 2021 annual report.
"Application was made to the stock exchange for the suspension of trading in the shares of the company with effect from 9am on Jan 18, 2022 and will remain suspended until further notice," Genting Hong Kong said.