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Odyssey Marine Exploration to enlist partners in treasure search

Tampa deep-sea treasure hunter Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. is enlisting partners in the search for what it hopes is another treasure-laden shipwreck.

On Thursday, Odyssey announced it will earn an initial $3.5 million by selling partial rights to a sunken vessel off the coast of Great Britain code-named Enigma.

It concluded an agreement with Robert Fraser Marine Ltd., which in turn is working through two affiliated companies, Charlesworth Marine Ltd. and Global Marine Search Ltd.

Joining forces with Fraser is a way for Odyssey to "off-load risk" yet still get a large cut of any profits, said Laura Barton, a company spokeswoman in Tampa. If the search results in a substantial treasure find, Odyssey would still earn tens of millions of dollars from the deal.

The company's stock rose 14 cents to close at $1.52 a share, an increase of more than 10 percent.

In February, the company announced the discovery of another sunken ship in the Channel, the HMS Victory. Odyssey suspects the 1744 Royal Navy wreck contains 4 tons of gold coins, but stormy winter weather has delayed resumption of diving until next year, Barton said. Negotiations continue with the British government over how to split the potential hoard.

Odyssey's relations are less cozy with the Spanish government, battling the company over the rights to 500,000 mostly silver coins, weighing 17 tons, from an 1804 shipwreck identified as the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. The wreck was discovered off Portugal in 2007.

Odyssey Marine Exploration to enlist partners in treasure search 11/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 8:09pm]
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