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In mid-September, Viking Cruises announced that two firms have invested $500 million for a minority stake in its parent company. TPG Capital, which has previously bought into ventures including Uber and Cirque du Soleil, has teamed up with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to invest the money into MISA Investments Ltd., pending regulatory approval. Each company has put in a $250 million investment, for a combined 17 percent stake.
Viking says the funds will not impact its day-to-day operations, but are intended to support the line’s long-term growth plan and will allow it to expand into new markets around the world.
What this immediately means for Viking is that it can develop a selection of cruise products for the Chinese tourism market.
“We believe this is the right decision for the business, as China is the world’s biggest outbound tourism market and the number of Chinese outbound tourists is expected by industry experts to increase rapidly in the coming years,” according to a statement from the company.
Viking will open its Chinese-sourced program modestly in river cruising even before the deal is sealed, dedicating a Longship on the Rhine River between Amsterdam and Basel, Switzerland, with bookings now on sale and the first cruises sailing later this year. Viking has not indicated the specific vessel or exact date of the first cruise.
“It is important to note that our new products for Chinese guests will be separate from our existing cruise products that are developed for guests from North America, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand,” the company’s statement added. “Our Chinese guests will sail exclusively on a vessel where Mandarin is the primary language used onboard; our other guests will continue to sail exclusively on ships where English is the primary language used onboard.”
With 65 ships in its fleet, Viking operates the industry’s largest river cruise line, in addition to Viking Ocean Cruises, its bluewater brand launched last year. At this time, no announcement has been made about dedicated seagoing ships for the Chinese market.