February 11, 2009
Ambassadors International to focus on Windstar
Ambassadors International, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMIE) says it will be a "cruise only" company.
It has hired Stephens Inc. to sell its principal non-Windstar assets and to evaluate corporate capital and debt opportunities available to the company.
The businesses to be sold by Stephens include the company's marine division, including its marina construction and marine operations businesses, and its travel and events division.
CEO Joe Ueberroth stated: "The Board and management are confident in the strategy to focus all of our capital and efforts on Windstar Cruises and the small ship luxury segment. Further, we believe that Windstar has the most potential upside for our shareholders and a successful sale of our other businesses provides the company stability in a difficult economy."
Mr. Ueberroth has been replaced as Chairman of the Board by Art Rodney, a thirty year cruise veteran who joined the board last year. He has held positions as founding president of Disney Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises, and president and CFO of Princess Cruises.
"I have enjoyed working with Joe over the last year and respect his resolve to put shareowner interest ahead of his personal interest," commented Mr. Rodney. "The Board requested Joe's participation in the bidding process for our marine group, since he knows the business well and can move quickly, although we also will actively solicit bids from other interested parties."
In light of Mr. Ueberroth's anticipated participation in the marine division bidding process, the Board of Directors has formed a special committee to be advised by Stephen.
The company's cruise and corporate headquarters will be consolidated in Seattle over the next several months. In addition, during this transition period the current executive team in Newport Beach, Calif., will be transitioning out of the company. The company has already commenced a search for experienced cruise executives to replace Mr. Ueberroth as CEO and Laura Tuthill as CFO.
No word in today's announcement about Majestic America Line, which is no longer operating. Last month Ambassador announced that Majestic America's most notable asset, the historic Delta Queen, would be used as a floating hotel but pledged that efforts would continue to gain a congressional exemption to let the 82 year old sternwheeler resume cruising despite its non-compliance with current fire safety regulations.