Ferry giant FRS takes majority in Clipper, eyes Cuba

JANUARY 19, 2016 — Flensburg, Germany, based ferry operator FRS (Förde Reederei Seetouristik mbH) has acquired a majority interest in Seattle, WA, based Clipper Navigation, Inc., whose Clipper Vacations operates the Victoria Clipper passenger ferry service between Seattle and Victoria, BC and the San Juan Islands.

Terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed.

FRS is a global ferry and shipping group, currently operating 60 vessels in 12 countries, that last year carried of more than seven million passengers and 1.9 million vehicles last year on national and international ferry routes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

FRS says that, with the acquisition, Clipper will expand its Canadian service with a new hub in Vancouver connecting downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria. It also says that, with Clipper's support, it will launch a new ferry service from Florida to Cuba, pending government guidance and approval.

"This is an exciting day for Clipper, as we are thrilled to join forces with another industry leader," said Merideth Tall, founder, CEO and Chair of Clipper. "FRS is a company that shares our values and our vision for travel and tourism in North America, and has long-term experience in markets around the world. Combining with FRS will allow us to expand our travel products and services to provide many more options for our customers that will now include Vancouver and Cuba."

Ms.Tall will continue in her role as CEO of Clipper, and will expand the Clipper team to support this growth. She will also retain minority ownership of the company.

Both FRS and Clipper are family-owned businesses. FRS has 150 years of experience in the operation of various ferry types and has grown from a regional passenger ferry operator to an international active group. FRS operates ferry routes in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. Clipper is a 30-year-old Seattle institution best known for owning and operating the Victoria Clipper ferries between Seattle, Victoria, BC and the San Juan Islands. The company is also well known for providing travel packages throughout Washington state, Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, Portland, the Canadian Rockies and beyond.

"By acquiring Clipper, we are expanding our presence in the North American market, bringing with us our long history of operational acumen and connection to the European tourism market," said Götz Becker, CEO of FRS. "Clipper has an impressive track record in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, and will now serve even more of the Canadian market with a new Vancouver service. With the support of Clipper, we are also thrilled to launch a new ferry service between Florida and Cuba."

"When I went on a business trip with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (Wash.) to Cuba in 2002, it opened my eyes to the possibilities of a tourism industry between our two countries," said Ms. Tall. "Together with FRS, we will continue to build our role as a major presence in the tourism industry throughout North America."

FRS' fleet includes RoPax ferries, passenger ferries, high speed catamarans for vehicles and passengers, crew transfer vessels for the offshore wind industry, hovercraft, water taxis, and electric-powered solar ferries. FRS is committed to developing ecofriendly solutions for public transportation. FRS also provides port management and operation services worldwide.

Want more? Subscribe now!

News from NASDAQ