Fort Lauderdale - During Seatrade, the most important show in the cruise ship sector (held this year in Fort Lauderdale because Miami’s fairgrounds are being renovated), Fincantieri announced that its subsidiary, Vard, signed a letter of intent for the construction of four luxury cruise ships with the French shipowner Ponant, which is part of the Artemis Group (Pinault family). The agreement, which is subject to various conditions including financing from the shipowner, indicates Vard’s entry into the cruise segment: this change in the Norwegian company’s business was anticipated in the last balance sheet report (the company was in the red). Vard is active in the design and construction of offshore vessels and struggling with a significant contraction in commissions because of the global block on investments due to the crash of the price of crude oil. For months a team of Vard employees, about 35 people, have been working at the Sestri Ponente plant.
The four Ponant units will therefore be built in Vard’s Romanian and Norwegian shipyards: the hulls will be built at Tulcea (which passed a reliability test after the construction of the hull of the Majestic Princess for Carnival) while the interiors will be built at two of the company’s five Norwegian shipyards. The ships, of 10,000 tonnes gross tonnage each, will be 128m long and 18m wide. They will accommodate 180 passengers (in 92 cabins) and 110 crew members. The deliveries are expected between the summers of 2018 and 2019.
In the past, Fincantieri has built four units for Ponant at its Ancona facility, which were delivered between 2010 and 2015, for a value of €100 million each, a price that might not be much different from the value of this latest commission. Fincantieri C.E.O. Giuseppe Bono explained, “This contract is fundamentally important for the entire group. Our shipyards dedicated to producing cruise ships in fact could not have taken on these construction projects for several years, given the workload already acquired (editor’s note: until 2021), but through the synergies achieved with Vard we are once again able to respond to the demand from shipowners. Bono concluded, “The cabins and other areas for passengers will be built in Italy.” Fincantieri holds 55.63% of Vard’s stock and wholly consolidates its financial statements.