The hidden forces of the yachting industry

The hidden forces of the yachting industry

The people and companies that actually control the yachting industry
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70% of companies in the yachting industry call themselves «leaders», according to a study by Yacht Harbour. For someone who is not in the industry, it can be difficult to determine the real scale and financial position of companies and shipyards.

Mergers and acquisitions have been very active in the yachting industry over the last 20 years. This has resulted in the emergence of several large giant corporations controlling most of the market. Some individuals with high-profile names have also been involved in these transactions. Yacht Harbour found out who actually «drives» the yachting industry.

Dalian Wanda Group

Annual revenue: $39.47 billion (2014)
Chairman and Founder: Wang Jianlin
Brenda: Sunseeker

Wanda Group was founded by Wang Jianlin in 1988. Originally the company was involved in commercial property management. Today, its assets amount to 634 billion yuan, and 26 million square meters of commercial real estate is under management. The company also owns the world's largest cinema chain.

In 2013 the group decided to buy one of the largest British shipyards - Sunseeker. With a loss of £9 million in 2009, Sunseeker restructured its debt and took over the management of FL Partners, an Irish private equity firm. In 2013, Wanda Group paid about £300 million for the purchase of Sunseeker, according to the Financial Times.


Annual revenue: $35.6 billion (2015)
Chairman and CEO: Bernard Arnaud
Brenda: Princess Yachts, Royal Van Lent

The French luxury conglomerate Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, better known as LVMH, is also - perhaps not as unexpectedly as the Wanda Group - a player in the superyacht industry. In 2008, L Capital's investment division, supported by investment bank Calyon, acquired Princess Yachts for £200 million, according to Reuters.

Later this year the conglomerate strengthened its position in the company by buying the Royal Van Lent Shipyard, which was part of the Feadship group, for €200-400 million. In 2007, Royal Van Lent's sales were €100 million.

Gavio Group

Annual turnover: € 2.2 billion (2012)
Brands: Baglietto, Cerri Cantieri Navali, Bertram

The Gavio Group, a large Italian corporation whose main business is to make concessions with a company that manages 1,400 kilometers of roads in Italy, also has interests in the yachting industry. In 2012 Bejamino Gavio completed the acquisition of the iconic Italian shipyard Baglietto for €18.5 million. The shipyard suffered the consequences of the financial crisis, resulting in €73 million in negative equity capital in 2009.

The Group strengthened its position in the yachting sector with the acquisition of another Italian shipyard, Cerri Cantieri Navali, a few months before closing the deal with Baglietto. Later in 2015, the corporation added the American yachting brand Bertram to its portfolio.

Privinvest Group

Owners: Akram and Iskandar Safa
Brenda: CMN, Nobiskrug, ADMShipyards

Privinvest Group is one of the largest marine corporations in Europe and is involved in the naval and superyacht industries. Founded by the Safa Privintest brothers in 1992, it acquired the Constructions mécaniques de Normandie (CMN) shipyard based in Cherbourg, France. Under the wing of Privintest, the shipyard began to develop rapidly, receiving several new customers from the Middle East.

In 2007 the group, together with Al Ain International Group, sponsored the creation of the Abu Dhabi MAR holding company. Privintest holds a 30% stake in Abu Dhabi MAR. Its executive director is one of the Safa brothers, Iskandar. The holding has invested in ADMShipyards and worked with the shipyard on the 141-meter Yas. In 2009 he acquired over 90% of the German shipyard Nobiskrug.

Azimut-Benetti Group

Net asset value: €300 million (2011)
Owner: Paolo Vitelli
Brands: Benetti, Azimut

Azimut was created by Paolo Vitelli in the 1970s as a dealer of American boats Amerglass. The company then became a yacht builder itself, building its first 43-foot boat. Azimut became famous with the launching of the 30-foot Failaka, the first fiberglass yacht ever built. Her client was the Prince of Kuwait. In 1985 Azimut bought the Fratelli Benetti shipyard located in Viareggio, thus laying the foundation for the future group of companies. The real popularity of Azimut was brought by a collaboration with a young designer Stefano Rigini, who made the brand iconic.

In 2001 the family of shipyards under the Azimut wing was joined by Gobbi. The Atlantis line of yachts moved there. In 2004 the group acquired Fraser Yachts, a major yacht broker.

Azimut-Benetti also operates several marinas, including the Royal Yacht Club in Moscow. By 2008, the group's turnover rose to €1 billion, but due to the crisis, by 2011 the figure had fallen to €600 million.

Ferretti Group

Maximum value: € 1.5 billion (2007)
Owners: Weichai Group, Royal Bank of Scotland
Brands: Ferretti, Custom Line, Pershing, CRN, Itama, Mochi Craft, Riva

Ferretti was founded in 1968 as the marine division of the family business of Alessandro and Norberto Ferretti. In 1971 the company introduced its first wooden motorboat. By 1982, it began producing sports fishing boats with flybridge. In 1996 the company expanded its business to include the Custom Line range of yachts from 26 to 40 meters. This was followed by years of acquisitions: CNA in 1998, CRN in 1999, Riva in 2000, Mochi Craft in 2001 and Itama in 2004.

In 2007, Candover Investments purchased the group with a loan and began preparing it for an initial public offering (IPO). Then the value of Ferretti reached a maximum of €1.5 billion. However, the crisis destroyed these plans, leading to a significant drop in sales. As a result, the group had to restructure its debts. The creditors, led by the Royal Bank of Scotland, transferred part of the group's debt of €1.2 billion to equity. Ferretti Group was eventually sold to Weichai Group, the largest bulldozer producer in China.

Vagit Alekperov

Status: $11.1 billion (2016)
Brands: Heesen Yachts

Vagit Alekperov is the ninth richest man in Russia, according to Forbes. In May 2015 it became known that the owner of the largest Russian private oil company «Lukoil» is also the owner of Heesen superyacht shipyard. It is reported that Alekperov bought Heesen Yachts from its founder Frans Heesen for €100 million. In 2013 the shipyard's profit was €5.2 million.

In March 2016 Heesen launched its new flagship, the 70-meter Galactica Super Nova, built for its owner, Vagit Alekperov, according to the Dutch Quote.

Mohammed Al-Barnavi

Status: $1.2 billion (2015)
Brands: Oceanco, Turquoise Yachts

Mohammed Al-Barnavi made a fortune on investments in the oil and gas industry. In 2010 he decided to diversify his portfolio by buying Oceanco's Dutch shipyard from its previous owner, Greek shipbuilding magnate Theodore Angelopulos. The first shipyard to start building spa pools on superyachts, Oceanco, with its new owner, is experiencing a heyday with his practical approach: it has supplied Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin with a chic 88.5-metre. Nirvana and is expanding its production capacity to build yachts up to 160 meters in size.

In December 2013, Al-Barvani further strengthened its position in the industry by buying the Turkish yacht builder Proteksan, now renamed Turquoise Yachts. The Turkish shipyard was just trying to survive the consequences of the scandal that followed the loss of Yogi's mega yacht. Less than a year after the launch, the yacht sank off the coast of Greece.

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