The QE2 cruise liner could be sold off as its Dubai owner looks to ease its debt mountain, it was reported today.
State-backed investment firm Dubai World plans to sell a raft of assets - including the luxury liner – owned by its private equity arm Istithmar, according to the Sunday Times.
Dubai World is laden with debts of €16bn and sent shockwaves through global markets last November when it asked to delay repayments to around 100 banks while it attempted to tackle its finances.
Istithmar bought the QE2 from Cunard in 2007 for $100m (€73m) amid plans at the time to transform it into a luxury floating hotel.
The liner, which was launched by the Queen in September 1967, was the longest-serving ship in Cunard’s 168-year history. It crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and carried more than 2.5 million passengers.
Other trophy assets on the block could also include the Canadian circus group Cirque du Soleil.
Advisers to Dubai World led by accountancy firm Deloitte are expected to present the plans for asset sales to creditors led by banks Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group in the coming months, the report said.
Alongside Istithmar’s assets, Dubai World’s interests range from Scotland’s historic Turnberry golf course to a series of UK ports through its acquisition of P&O in 2006.
The company also owns Nakheel, which is behind Dubai’s lavish Palm man-made island developments – although the expansion was fuelled by cheap debt and the emirate has since run into trouble.
In December Dubai received a £6bn (€6.8bn) handout from oil-rich neighbour Abu Dhabi to help meet its obligations while it secures its financial future.
Dubai World was unavailable for comment.