Royal Caribbean Group promoting Azamara to personal fairness agency Sycamore

Sycamore Partners will buy the brand, fleet and related intellectual property. The Azamara team remains intact and Carol Cabezas, chief operating officer, becomes president. After a transition period, the 100 or so employees on land at Azamara are likely to move from Royal Caribbean headquarters to another location in Miami.

The size of the transaction is subject to certain adjustments and closing conditions, and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter.

Sharper focus

“Our strategy has evolved to place more resources behind three global brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, and work to expand them as we emerge from this unprecedented time,” said Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. “Even so, Azamara remains a strong brand with tremendous growth potential. Sycamore’s track record shows that they will be good stewards of what the Azamara team has built over the past 13 years.”

Impairment charge of $ 170 million

The transaction will result in a one-time non-cash impairment charge of approximately $ 170 million and is not expected to have a material impact on the future financial results of the Royal Caribbean Group.

While Azamara has amassed its own loyal following, it also has some overlap with most notably Celebrity and the group’s more recent acquisition, Silversea. While Azamara grew from its original two to three ships in 2018 under former President / CEO Larry Pimentel, who developed a goal-intensive brand identity, they are all used ships (originally part of the R-series for Renaissance cruises). No new buildings were planned.

In contrast, there are currently a dozen newbuildings on the books for the group’s other brands – six for Royal Caribbean, three for Celebrity and three for Silversea.

Sycamore partner

Sycamore Partners is a New York-based private equity firm specializing in retail and consumer investments with approximately $ 10 billion of committed capital. Azamara is his first cruise investment and apparently his first travel-related investment.

Sycamore’s holdings include NBG Home (home decor), Belk (department stores); Coldwater Creek, Talbots, and The Limited (womenswear); Aeropostale (teenage clothes), Nine West and Stuart Weitzman (shoes), Pure Fishing (fishing tackle), Staples (business supplies), CommerceHub (e-commerce platform), and Hot Topic and Torrid (music and pop culture items). The company completed a proposed acquisition of Victoria’s Secret earlier this year.

“We are delighted that the Royal Caribbean Group has selected Sycamore to support Azamara in its next phase of growth,” said Stefan Kaluzny, Managing Director of Sycamore Partners. ‘We are excited to partner with the Azamara team and build on the longstanding success that serves the brand’s loyal customers. We believe Azamara will remain a top choice for discerning travelers as the cruise industry recovers over time. ‘

Azamara’s value proposition and operations are expected to remain consistent under the new owner, and the Royal Caribbean Group said it will work in close collaboration on a seamless transition for employees, customers and other stakeholders.

Carol Cabezas’ direct reports

There are currently around 100 people working on the Azamara brand coast. Direct reports to Cabezas include Francisco Mallmann, VP Strategy and Finance; Nils Lindstad, AVP sales and trade support; Scott Daniels, AVP Hotel Operations; Patty Gonzalez, director of global marketing and public relations; Gina Dunnett, director, agricultural product development; and Signe Bjørndal, Director, Onboard Entertainment and Cruise Sales. While not a direct report, Mike Pawlus, director of strategic itinerary and destination planning, is another prominent team member.

20 year old ships

The Azamara Journey with 690 passengers, Azamara Quest and Azamara Pursuit each measure a little over 30,000 g. The ships were built in 2000 and 2001.

They are currently in Glasgow at King George V’s dock, where they have spent most of their berth time.

Perella Weinberg Partners LP was a financial advisor to the Royal Caribbean Group and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP was a legal advisor. Kirkland & Ellis LLP advised Sycamore Partners on legal matters.

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