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ODYSSEY SEEKS DEAL FOR TREASURE

The Tampa company plans to work with Britain on a wreck.

Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration has decided it's better to be reasonable than rancorous if you're haggling over four tons of shipwrecked gold.

The deep-sea salvage company announced Friday it would drop its federal court case laying claim to the wreck of the British man-of-war HMS Victory. Instead, Odyssey plans to cooperate with the British government to raise artifacts associated with the 265-year-old sailing ship resting at the bottom of English Channel.

Odyssey chief executive Greg Stemm is trying to cut a deal with Great Britain to share proceeds. The Victory may have been carrying 100,000 gold coins from Lisbon, Portugal, when it smashed against rocks during a storm.

The British government has yet to agree to dividing the loot, though it has a profit-sharing arrangement with Odyssey on another sunken British vessel called the HMS Sussex.

"We are comfortable that the way forward will include not only Odyssey's involvement but a deal with Odyssey that allows us to participate in the project," Stemm said.

The HMS Victory was predecessor to the more famous ship of the same name captained by Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic era.

As a goodwill gesture, Odyssey has handed over two cannons from the wreck and donated part of its salvage fee to Britain's Royal Navy museum.

Relations haven't been so smooth between Odyssey and Spain, which has demanded the company hand over 17 tons of silver coins recovered from the 1804 wreck of the warship Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes.

Odyssey has stashed the coins in Florida pending a federal lawsuit. Spain claims the treasure as part of its national heritage.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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