ORLANDO-Left hanging in a planned $775-million stock deal with Miami-based Carnival Corp. in February, locally-based time-share leader Fairfield Communities is being acquired by New York-based Cendant Corp. in a $635 million stock-cash transaction.

Cendant is also taking on Fairfield’s $90 million debt load. The deal values Fairfield’s stock at $15. Cendant is trading around $12 per share.

The merger gives Fairfield new funding avenues and wider customer marketing bases. Cendant gains entry to the growing time-share pool, but faces an industry concern over its ownership of Resort Condominiums International, a fee-based, time-share exchange network.

How much of an advantage Cendant will now have over the competition with its newly-acquired time-share portfolio and its RCI exchange product remains an unanswered industry question.

Cendant’s entry into time-shares follows a similar move last year by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in buying Orlando-based Vistana Inc., a local time-share pioneer.

Fairfield’s deal with Carnival, begun in January, collapsed when the cruise line’s stock went south in February and dropped its stock value. That killed the planned $775 million stock-swap transaction.

Cendant has a staff of 28,000, headed by CEO Henry Silverman. Third-quarter profit was $214 million on revenue of $1.23 billion. Fairfield, led by CEO Jim Berk, has 6,294 employees. Third-quarter profit was $19.2 million on sales of $166.8 million.

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