The notorious crisis is still affecting the entire global yachting industry. It would seem that in two years it was already possible to go bankrupt for all those who had fallen into irreversible bankruptcy, or to regroup or fall into good hands with those patients who were «rather alive». But no! The redistribution of property in the market continues.
The most interesting news of recent days is the sale of a majority stake in Sunseeker for 25 million pounds, which the shipyard itself reported June 2. The buyer is a group of investors from Ireland and the UK, represented by a private equity fund FL Partners, headed by Peter Crowley and Neil Hughes.
Under the terms of the deal, Crowley and Hughes will be on the shipyard's board of directors. They will also be joined by Andy McFile, a representative of the Souter Investments fund owned by transport magnate Brian Sauter. Sunseeker founder Robert Braithwaite will retain the largest individual block of shares, which is not a part of the consolidated FL Partner share, and will also retain the position of president and chairman of the board of directors. The shipyard's Managing Director will be Stuart McIntyre, who previously served as Executive Director of Sunseeker.
What is so remarkable about this story?
First, the amount of the deal. 25 «units» of poundA - or something like 30 million euros at the current exchange rate - is actually almost a gift for a company whose turnover last year exceeded £300 million.
Secondly, we can't get rid of the idea that the new co-owners of Sunseeker are people, to put it mildly, from a completely different league. Among the assets owned by FL Partners are the newspaper about the Racing Post, the Irish cable channel UTV, as well as companies producing pneumatic tools and orthopedic mattresses (!). Brian Sauter's core business, another of the shipyard's new interests, is Stagecoach, a major intercity bus and train operator.
The «luxury» motor yacht yard looks like a toy in this range. Examples like this, where non-core companies were part of the yachting business, have been in history, but it never ends well. Still, the luxury industry, and especially its most technologically complicated part, the yachting part, is a specific thing, and approaches here are needed quite differently than in mass-market business.
There is also no need to write off such an important point as the origin of capital. It is no secret that Britain is a traditional class society, and the answer to whose question «you will» play a role in it is not the last one. People from Ireland and Scotland are considered rednecks»in England«. And in this case, the Irish FL Partners and the Scottish Souther, who took control of the company, which is one of the main symbols of the English style - it's about as if our Chukchi started spilling vodka «Russian Standard Empire».
In general, all indications are that Sunseeker is not in the best financial shape now, and there was not much to choose Robert Braithwaite.
Compare this deal to the exemplary sale of Sunseeker's nearest competitor, Princess Yachts, to the world's largest luxury conglomerate LVMH for £200 (two hundred!) million in June 2008. It's not even about the amount, which differs by an order of magnitude - after all, it was neat before the crisis. Just Princess brand in one line with Louis Vuitton, Moet&Chandon, Chaumet, Hennessy and others looks much more logical than Sunseeker next to London's suburban buses, Kaymed mattresses and ATA Bulgarians«.»
Despite everything, the Sunseeker shipyard still makes some of the best boats in the world.