CMA CGM Sells Luxury Cruise Ship Arm

Compagnie du Ponant’s L’Austral is the second and latest ship delivered to the company as part of the new Le Boréal class, featuring 132 cabins and suites allowing for up to 264 passengers and 140 crew.

Container shipping giant CMA CGM announced plans Monday to sell it’s luxury cruise line La Compagnie du Ponant to a European private equity firm.

Acquired by CMA CGM in 2006, La Compagnie du Ponant operates a fleet of 4 French-flagged luxury cruise ships that range in size from 32 to 132 cabins and is particularly well known for it’s arctic and Antarctic cruises.  The company, which is the only French owner of cruise ships and operates within the high-end segment of the industry, employs approximately 580 people, mostly seagoing, and hosted 20,000 passengers in 2011 generating EUR80 million in revenues.

The deal, which is expected to close in August, will see ownership of La Compagnie du Ponant to Bridgepoint, a European private equity firm specializing in growth through acquisition of “well managed companies” valued up to EUR1 billion in sectors that in the past have included business services, consumer, financial services, healthcare, media, and industrial.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed however a statement released to the company’s website says that the agreement will offer La Compagnie du Ponant the “resources it needs to fulfil its ambitions, maintain its growth momentum and take its international expansion to a new level.”

In 2008, La Compagnie du Ponant’s three-masted yacht Le Ponant made headlines when it fell victim to Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.  While the vessel did not have any passengers on board at the time, pirates took hostage of it’s 30 crewmembers who were all released shortly afterwards without incident.