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Norwegian sails into luxury with Prestige purchase

NEW YORK — Norwegian Cruise Line is sailing into the luxury sector by buying the high-end Prestige Cruises International in a deal valued at about $3 billion, including debt.

The deal will give Norwegian access to Prestige’s eight ships on the Oceania and Regent Seven Seas cruise lines and its big-ticket vacation packages. Norwegian, which owns 13 ships, is known for its ‘‘Freestyle Cruising’’ that lets travelers choose where they want to eat and at what time.

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Buying Prestige will help Norwegian be more competitive with its larger rivals: Carnival Corp. owns luxury cruise lines Cunard and Princess, while Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. owns Celebrity Cruises.

Norwegian values the cash-and-stock deal at $3.03 billion when debt is included. The company declined to specify how much debt it would be taking on. Shareholders including private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, Prestige’s majority owner, could get another $50 million in cash if certain performance targets are reached.

The two other big Norwegian shareholders have already signed off on the deal.

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