70% of companies in the yachting sector describe themselves as leading according to a study performed by Yacht Harbour on a sample of over 100 companies. It can therefore be hard for customers to differentiate at first glance the real financial position of companies and their scale.

Following a very active past 20 years in the mergers and acquisitions space in the yachting industry, some behemoths have emerged, controlling a large portion of the market and shaping the industry moving forward. Some high-profile individuals and corporations have also become involved in the superyacht industry in recent years. We have therefore investigated some of the most powerful corporations and individuals in the yachting space.

Dalian Wanda Group


Princess AVK

Annual revenue: $39.47 billion (2014)

Chairman & Founder: Wang Jianlin

Brands: Sunseeker

Largest commercial real estate operator in China and world's largest cinema chain operator, Wanda Group was founded in 1988 by Wang Jianlin. The company has today 634 billion yuans in assets and manages over 26 million square meters of hotel property. In 2013, the company decided to purchase UK-based yacht manufacturer, Sunseeker. 

Having gone through losses of 9 million pounds in 2009, Sunseeker restructured its debt and was taken over by FL Partners, an Irish private equity company. Sunseeker was sold in 2013 to the Wanda Group for around 300 million pounds according to the Financial Times.

LVMH


Symphony - © Feadship Fanclub

Annual revenue: $35.6 billion (2015)

Chairman & CEO: Bernard Arnault


Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, better known as the French luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH, is perhaps not so surprisingly also a player in the superyacht industry. In 2008, L Capital, the company's investment arm, purchased Princess Yachts in a deal worth 200 million pounds according to Reuters, with support from the Calyon investment bank. 

Later that year, the conglomerate strengthened their position in the company with the purchase of Royal Van Lent, part of the Feadship organization, for a reported sum between 200-400 million euros. In 2007, Royal Van Lent had posted sales of 100 million euros.

Gavio Group


Fast - © Baglietto
Annual turnaround: €2.2 billion (2012)

Brands: BagliettoCerri Cantieri Navali, Bertram

Gruppo Gavio, a large Italian corporation whose main business lies in motorway concessions with the company operating over 1400 kilometers of motorways in Italy, also has interests in the yachting industry. In 2012, Bejamino Gavio led an acquisition of the iconic Italian Baglietto shipyard for a sum of €18.5 million. The shipyard had been through some rough waters during the financial crisis resulting in 73 million euros of negative equity in 2009.

The group further consolidated its position in the sector by purchasing Cerri Cantieri Navali, a few months before the Baglietto deal, and by later acquiring US-based Bertram in 2015.

Privinvest Group


Siren © Yacht Harbour

Current owners: Akram & Iskandar Safa


Privinvest Group is one of Europe's largest maritime corporations which is involved in naval manufacturing and is also involved in the superyacht industry. Founded by the Safa brothers, Privinvest purchased Constructions mécaniques de Normandie (CMN) based in Cherbourg, France in 1992. The company then managed to turn around the fledging shipyard with new orders from the Middle East according to the Independent.

In 2007, the group funded 30% of the Abu Dhabi MAR company which ventured into shipbuilding through ADMShipyards and worked on the 141-meter Yas. In 2009, Privinvest continued to consolidate its position in the sector by acquiring German shipyard Nobiskrug.

Azimut-Benetti Group


I Dynasty © Superyachts Monaco

Maximum recorded asset net worth: €300 million (2011)

Current owner: Paolo Vitelli

Brands: Benetti, Azimut

Azimut was established in the early 1970s by Paolo Vitelli as a dealership of Amerglass boats. The company then evolved into yacht manufacturing by building its first 43ft boat. It later delivered Failaka, the first 30-metre fibreglass yacht ever built, to a Kuwaiti prince. In 1985, Azimut took over the Fratelli Benetti boatyard in Viareggio, setting the roots for the group. The company later started collaborating with young designer, Stefano Righini, which would bring the Azimut lines the company is known for today.

The company acquired the Gobbi shipyard in 2001 which now produced the group's Atlantis range from 10m to 18m. In 2004, the group acquired Fraser Yachts, a large yacht brokerage company. It later developed Marina di Varazze and the Royal Yacht Club in Moscow. By 2011, the group's net assets grew to €300 million according to this presentation with a turnover of €600 million, a significant cut on its €1 billion turnover in 2008 according to the Financial Times.

Ferretti Group


Chopi Chopi © Yacht Harbour
Maximum recorded value: 1.5 billion (2007)

Current owners: Weichai Group, Royal Bank of Scotland

Brands: FerrettiCustom LinePershingCRN, Itama, Mochi Craft, Riva

Ferretti was established in 1968 as the first marine division of Alessandro and Norberto Ferretti's family business. In 1971, the company delivered its first wooden motor-sailer and by 1982 it began producing boats for sport fishing with a flybridge. By 1996, the group decided to expand into a larger range and set up Custom Line, a division meant to operate in the growing 26-40m range. In following years, the company multiplied acquisitions buying CNA in 1998, CRN in 1999, Riva in 2000, Mochi Craft in 2001 and Itama in 2004.

As the company was preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) after having been acquired in a leveraged buyout by Candover Investments which put the Group's value at €1.5 billion in 2007, the financial crisis led to a significant drop in sales. As a result, the Group had to restructure debt and its creditors, led by the Royal Bank of Scotland, converted a portion of their €1.2 billion debt into equity according to Bloomberg.

Ferretti Group was eventually sold to Weichai Group, a state-owned Chinese company, the largest maker of bulldozer's in China.


Vagit Alekperov

Galactica Super Nova - © Dick Holthius

Net worth: $11.1 billion (2016)

Brands: Heesen Yachts

Mr. Vagit Alekperov is currently considered to be Russia's 9th richest man according to Forbes. In May 2015  it became known that the head of Lukoil, Russia's largest independent oil company, is the current owner of Heesen.
In 2008, Mr. Alekperov purchased Heesen Yachts from founder, Frans Heesen, for a reported sum of 100 million euros. The shipyard posted profits of €5.2 million in 2013 according to Forbes Russia.

In March 2016, Heesen launched its newest flagship, the 70m Galactica Super Nova (Project Kometa) which was built for Mr. Alekperov according to Dutch publication, Quote.

Mohammed Al Barwani


Turquoise - © Ocean Independence

Net worth: $1.2 billion (2015)

Brands: Oceanco, Turquoise Yachts

Energy tycoon, Mohammed al-Barwani made his wealth investing in oil, gas, minerals and manufacturing. In 2010 he however decided to purchase Dutch shipyard, Oceanco from Greek shipping magnate, Theodore Angelopoulos. First company to build spa pools on superyachts, Oceanco has much benefited from the hands-on approach of Al Barnawi delivering the beautiful Nirvana for Russian billionaire Potanin as well as expanding its facility to be able to construct yachts up to 160 meters.

In December 2013, al-Barwani further consolidated his position in the industry, purchasing Turkish yacht manufacturer, Proteksan (now Turquoise Yachts), which was struggling following the highly publicized sinkage of M/Y Yogi.

Latest News

Inside the 91m yacht seized by Malaysia
In the spotlight throughout a long-running case around Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, the 91-meter Equanimity is now being auctioned for a nine-figure sum by Malaysia's government. Built by Oceanco, the superyacht was delivered with one of the largest spas ever seen onboard a yacht.1MDB was created in 2009 as a sovereign wealth fund with over $4 billion under management to invest in strategic projects. After a series of investments in energy and real estate, a controversy around the fund began as to whether funds had been misappropriated throughout this period by management and government officials.Later investigations led to asset seizures spearheaded by the US DoJ, amongst which was Equanimity. It was then claimed that her owner, financier Jho Low, had ordered the yacht using profits that were connected to 1MDB's real estate dealings and off-shore accounts totalling over $250 million for the yacht's purchase and upkeep.Financed also in part through a loan by Sotheby's financial against art works, Equanimity was delivered in 2014 and introduced at the Monaco Yacht Show later that year where she won the award of finest yacht. Amongst her main highlights was an extensive spa area that spanned a large part of her lower deck.Following developments in the 1MDB case, the DoJ moved to seize Equanimity in June 2017 as part of their effort to recoup an estimated $400 million in alleged profits from Low. The yacht was eventually seized in Indonesia at the request of Malaysian authorities. According to a spokesman for Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, this was done in violation of Indonesian and American court rulings. Following the seizure, the yacht was transported to Malaysia where finance minister, Lim Guan Eng said an auction of the yacht was to take place. It is now understood at least nine figures were being sought for the yacht at the auction, which is expected to be completed by March 2019.Equanimity was, however, famous across the yachting community, well before being pushed into the limelight by this case, for its extensive spa area on the lower deck, plunge pools and highly customised interior. At 2,998 gross tons of interior volume, the yacht still sits as the 65th largest yacht in the world.The 91-meter's spa is akin to that of a megapolis' 5-star hotel. Incorporating plunge pools, massage areas, saunas, experiential showers, hammams, jacuzzis and a gym all designed with the most precious of materials, it directly connects to a beach club from which guests can swim out into the ocean.Equanimity's 5 decks are connected by a grand staircase coupled with a glass elevator. Accommodating up to 22 guests in 11 cabins, the yacht was the first one to be built to comply with the new Passenger Yacht Code. Carrying a crew of 31, the yacht can cruise for up to 5,000 nautical miles at a speed of 15 knots, with its top speed at 18.5 kn.Aft of its second deck, Equanimity features a large helipad, typically covered with lounging sofas and sun beds when not in use. Forward of the helipad is a 20sqm spa pool sitting in front of the entrance to the yacht's spacious main salon. Throughout the deck, guests are kept within the atmosphere of a luxurious, relaxing spa.Inside, across the yacht's lounges and cabins can be found a continuing theme of the sea rendered through a clever use of sculptures, ornaments and glass. Centred around a clear colour scheme with tall windows throughout, Equanimity's interior almost acts as an extension of the sea wherever the yacht cruises.Equanimity's staterooms, styled like a luxurious, modern hotel, are spread out into a master cabin with a study, which can be converted into a double cabin, a VVIP suite, 3 VIP cabins, as well as an additional 2 double and 2 twin cabins spread out throughout the yacht's main deck, giving good views to all guests.Fully-equipped, the 91-meter's gym can be used underway but is best enjoyed when at anchor, with a fold down platform that opens up onto the sea and lets guests exercise practically on the water. Equanimity also comes complete with two custom-designed, 10-meter Hodgdon tenders to ferry around her guests in style.Malaysia's auction will see qualified buyers making sealed bids for the yacht in view of a sale that is set to complete by March 2019. Whilst the exact asking price is for the moment unknown, officials are looking for a 9 figure number according to various press reports. This becomes the 2nd high profile yacht auctioned off this year, following the 95-meter Oceanco, Indian Empress, which was sold earlier this year for €35 million during an auction in Malta.
91m Equanimity to be auctioned for nine figures
Equanimity, the 91-meter superyacht caught up in legal pursuits led by the United States' Department of Justice over the 1MDB fund, is now going to be auctioned off for a nine figure sum in March 2019. This follows the yacht being seized earlier in 2018.The sale of the yacht, which is being handled by Burgess on behalf of the Malaysian government, is happening at the request of the Sheriff of the Admiralty Court of Kuala Lumpur. According to statements made by government officials, interest in purchasing the yacht has already been recorded.This development comes as part of a long saga that started with the US DoJ moving to seize Equanimity back in June 2017. This was being done as part of an effort to recover $1.7 billion that were allegedly misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Berhad Fund according to the DoJ. Of this figure, $400 million were being sought from Jho low, a Malaysian businessman who took delivery of Equanimity in 2014. The yacht cost him over $250 million according to court fillings, including its upkeep.After eventually being seized by Indonesian authorities, the yacht was moved to Malaysia in view of a public auction for the yacht that was to take place according to Malaysia's finance minister, Lim Guan Eng. A spokesman for Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, the yacht's owner, then commented that this move was done in violation of Indonesian and American court rulings.Launched in 2014, Equanimity was built by Oceanco in the Netherlands and debuted at the Monaco Yacht Show, later that year. Amongst her main amenities area a large spa area spread throughout the yacht's aft.
Hakvoort launches flagship 64m Scout
Hakvoort, the Dutch-based shipyard, has confirmed the launch of its largest project to date, the 63.72-meter Scout. Designed by H2 Yacht Design, the yacht is expected to be delivered to her owners in Spring 2019. She was previously known as Project Brio.Launched on December 1st, the yacht started construction under a different ownership, changing owners early on and shifting the project to the steel and aluminium explorer that it is today. "The owner’s brief called for a rugged explorer style yacht intended to look like a conversion from a commercial vessel." commented H2's Jonny Horsfield. "We placed the tenders on the bow, leaving them exposed to add to the utilitarian aesthetic. There is a helideck and a forward observation lounge in addition to an expansive sun deck."Scout features 4 guest cabins on the main deck as well as an owner's deck in addition to 2 staff cabins on the lower deck. Sold by Fraser Yachts to her current owner, Scout will become the largest yacht built by Hakvoort, topping its 61-meter Just J's delivered in 2016.The owner's previous yacht was a 45-meter RMK Marine also named Scout. Delivered in 2012, she was sold asking $15.9 million and has since been renamed Calliope.Powered by twin CAT engines, Scout will cruise at 12.5 knots and reach a top speed of 14.8kn. Her maximum range will be at 4,800 nautical miles once delivered, coupled with an ice-class hull.
Promise: Feadship's first ice-classed yacht delivered
Promise, the 51-meter yacht launched earlier this year, has now been delivered according to the Dutch shipyard. First yacht built by Feadship to be ice-classed, the 51-meter is now being shipped to the US according to the yard.Penned by Studio De Voogt with an interior by Bannenberg and Rowell, Promise was created as the first Feadship to fit ice-class notations, hinting that the yacht will cruise in polar regions for some portion of time. Powered by twin Caterpillar engines, she will have a top speed of 14.5 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.Spread across a large beam of 10.8-meters, the 51-meter custom built yacht has been shrouded in secrecy throughout her build. Notable features from the outside are her large helipad aft o the upper deck, as well as tall windows in the main lounges suggesting panoramic views.Photos via Feadship
Indian Empress crew recovers $1 million in salaries
Maritime union Nautilus has confirmed that near $1 million in overdue salaries were paid to the crew of Indian Empress, now known as Neom. This follows the 95-meter yacht being abandoned in Malta in 2017 and recently sold at an auction for €35 million.The yacht's previous owner, Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, left the yacht in Malta in September 2017 amidst controversy over his Kingfisher Airlines and debts of over $1 billion. Known for his former Formula One team, Force India, as well as his United Spirits alcohol distributor in India, which he sold in 2014, Mallya was also active in Indian politics until 2016.After crew members of Mallya's Indian Empress, as well as several other creditors, the largest of which was Melita Power Diesel with an outstanding payment of over €650,000, demanded the yacht be sold to cover expenses, it was put up for auction in Malta. After several failed attempts, the yacht was sold for €35 million and renamed Neom.The latest developments sees the maritime union securing a payout for crew members, which averages at $20,745 per crew members, of which there were more than 40 reportedly unpaid since September 2017.Built in 2000 by Oceanco in the Netherlands as Al Mirqab, the 95-meter yacht remains one of the most iconic on the water. Refitted in 2006 and renamed to Indian Empress, the yacht was made available for charter throughout the past 10 years from €650,000 per week. She is now known as Neom.