Arison has preferred to stay behind the scenes and let the heads of individual brands handle issues publicly. Donald said he believes that fundamental approach is generally sound.
There will be times when there needs to be the corporate face, and Im well prepared to do that, but frankly, I think our brands are very strong unto themselves and I dont see much deviation, he said.
Arisons father, Ted, founded the company in 1972. Micky Arison started working at Carnival Cruise Lines in sales, and then became reservations manager in 1974. By 1979, he was president of the company. He oversaw the shift from family-owned shop to publicly traded company, and steered the ship through acquisitions of cruise lines including Holland America Line, Cunard Line, Seabourn and Costa Cruises. Carnival cemented its place as worlds largest cruise ship company in 2003 by merging with P&O Princess Cruises.
Ive been doing this for 34 years, Arison said Tuesday. Maybe 34 is enough.
All the while, the Arison name has been synonymous with Carnival which made Tuesdays announcement all the more surprising to some.
Its a shock to people within the industry because its like Carnival Corp. and Micky Arison are one, said Mike Driscoll, editor of the weekly trade publication Cruise Week. Its like Santa Claus and presents at Christmas.
But Driscoll and other observers questioned how distant Arison would be from the company in his new role. Hes chairman of the board, he said. He will be very, very active and powerful.
Katz said that with Arison still a major shareholder in the company members of the Arison family beneficially owned about 27 percent of the companys voting power as of January she expects that he will still have a serious interest in making sure it stays profitable. Arison is the highest-ranking South Floridian on Forbes 2013 list of the worlds wealthiest, with a reported net worth of $5.7 billion.
At first glance, to me it would seem like it would be very much business as usual, especially if Micky has his feet in the water over there, Katz said.
For his part, Arison said he plans to be less involved in day-to-day activities. During a conference call with analysts, he said he will continue to work in areas including new ship building, but will mostly do whatever Arnold needs him to do.
Im going to be looking to Arnold to run the day-to-day corporate operation, and I may even take a couple of golf lessons, he said during the call.
The choice of Donald, who has not been CEO of a for-profit company since he stepped down from that position at Merisant in 2003 but has served on several executive boards, came as a surprise to observers. Arison said the company did not conduct an external search.
Navas, the governance consultant, said the choice of a board member especially one who did not plan to relocate was unusual.
What the message sends here is that there may not be anybody internally that they feel is qualified to be CEO and/or that they need time, he said. Theres just so many unknowns.
Donald said that although he lives in St. Louis, he will go wherever needed for as long as necessary.
Im going to spend every second I need to, wherever I need to be, he said. Well see over time.
He said hes confident he will have the autonomy and independence to run the company as he sees fit, but said he is comforted that Arison is willing to help at any time. Donald said he doesnt anticipate more major changes within the company, but said there are plans to add some positions.
There is a high level of confidence in the current leadership team at the various levels of the organization, he said. Theres no pending, pressing need to make dramatic changes or anything like that.
For Arison, having more time to fill will be a major change in itself. He joked that his other passion, the Miami Heat, might take up more of his time much to the dismay of the teams CEO, Arisons son Nick.
My son is nervous as hell that Ill be bothering him at the Heat more, Arison laughed.