Arison steps aside as Carnival CEO

06/25/2013 10:25 AM

06/25/2013 9:44 PM

After 34 years at the helm of the company his father Ted founded, Micky Arison is stepping down as CEO amid a change in the way Carnival Corp.'s leadership is structured.

The role of Chairman and CEO will be split and Arison, who turns 64 Saturday, will hand over the CEO job to longtime board member Arnold Donald, a businessman from St. Louis.

The move comes in the midst of major changes at the world's largest cruise ship company, which has been in damage control mode on and off since the January 2012 shipwreck of the Costa Concordia. This year, the disabling fire aboard the Carnival Triumph has taken a major toll on the company’s earnings, and Carnival revealed Tuesday that it believes the brand might not recover for as many as three years.

Carnival still reported a profit of $41 million for the second quarter of the year, but said cumulative advance bookings for the rest of the year are slower than last — and at lower prices. Revenue fell 1.7 percent to $3.48 billion. The company owns 10 brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises.

Arison came under fire after the Concordia wreck and Carnival Triumph incident for not being more visible during the crises and leaving the public comments to the heads of individual brands.

Donald, 58, said in an interview Tuesday that he believes that approach is generally sound.

“There will be times when there needs to be the corporate face, and I’m well prepared to do that, but frankly, I think our brands are very strong unto themselves and I don’t see much deviation,” he said.

Donald founded and led Merisant, a company whose products include sweetener brands Equal and Canderel. He also held multiple senior management roles at Monsanto over the course of 20-plus years, including president of the company's consumer and nutrition sector and president of its agricultural sector. More recently, he was president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and held the same job at the Executive Leadership Council, a forum for African-American executives of Fortune 500 companies.

This report was supplemented with information from the Associated Press.

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