The sale of the half-finished cruise ship “Global Dream” to Disney in Wismar has consequences for taxpayers: the US giant is happy to take tax money with it – and doesn’t even have to have a guilty conscience, as a look at the big picture reveals. The blame lies elsewhere.
Scrooge McDuck would turn green with envy: The notoriously stingy, rich uncle with the gold store could hardly have arranged Disney’s steamer deal for the “Global Dream” any better: Not enough that the US group got the record-breaking cruise ship for comparatively cheap money – the German taxpayer also unintentionally supports the purchase.
Because the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the federal government had guaranteed loans in the hundreds of millions for the completion of the floating hotel. Part of the guarantees must now be paid to Disney. It is not yet clear to what extent the public budgets will be prosecuted. Once again, a government bailout leads to additional costs – and afterwards the ghosts argue whether it was worth it or not.
The “Global Dream” is on the way to becoming the largest cruise ship in the world with around 10,000 passengers. But for ten months it has been 80 percent finished in the Wismar shipyard. Hong Kong-Malaysia-based gaming and cruise company Genting, which commissioned the construction, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. And as a result, the cruise subsidiary Dream Cruises and the German shipyard group MV Werften, which belongs to Genting, with locations in Bremerhaven, Wismar, Rostock and Stralsund.
Since then, employees and suppliers in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have hoped and feared that construction could continue. Last Thursday, the insolvency administrator Christoph Morgen finally announced that the Disney group had bought the “Global Dream” and had it completed.
The US voyage is known for movies and comics, but also operates its own cruise fleet. And if you have money on the high edge, you don’t want to miss out on a bargain like the “Global Dream”: Although no purchase price leaked out, it was well below the 1.3 billion euros that the insolvent owner had estimated , is considered safe. Now the ship must not only be finished, but also rebuilt according to Disney requirements. And this is where it gets complicated: The Papenburg Meyer shipyard, which is known for cruise ships, is supposed to do it, but not in its own place, but in the Wismar shipyard.
The punchline: The shipyard in Wismar has since been sold to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The change from cruise ship to warship was a godsend for the region and the staff and should happen in 2023 or 2024. Only up until now, nobody knew what would happen to the “Global Dream” that was practically blocking the shipyard. “Everyone is relieved that the ship will set sail with a new design and climate-friendly propulsion and will not have to be scrapped,” said Daniel Friedrich from the IG Metall coast district.
For all the joy of the local people, the price that the general public is paying must be considered. In view of the long history, it had been clear since the middle of the year that tax money would be lost here: Even before Genting went bankrupt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig had promoted cruise ship construction in the north-east with billions in loans and guarantees.
During the pandemic, which hit the industry particularly hard, there were also emergency loans – a series of bankruptcies in the middle of the election campaign would probably not have helped the state government. “As a state, we are ready to continue to support the MV shipyards,” said Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig on May 31, 2021 in the state parliament in Schwerin. “In return, however, we expect the owner to stand by the three locations and the employees. Genting has promised that.”
However, he was unable to discover anything from such a promise, MV insolvency administrator Christoph Morgen noted after the bankruptcy. In the spring of 2022, he reported that the Asian owners had been planning to close the operations on the north German coast for some time. A “solvent liquidation” was planned – and thus the opposite of what Schwesig had set as a condition for guarantees.
Critics and journalists asked themselves: Did the Prime Minister and her government know nothing about the closure concept? Or were they informed and kept the truth from the public for a year and raised false hopes?
A request from FOCUS online in the Schwerin Ministry of Economic Affairs remained unanswered at the time. The bottom line is that the sale to Disney might even be good for the taxpayer, as the proceeds for the ship mitigate the loss as a whole. So everyone benefits – and Scrooge McDuck wouldn’t even have a guilty conscience.
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The article “The largest cruise ship in the world is now costing the Germans millions” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.