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

Shark-inspired 120m Eco-explorer Concept Revealed by State of Craft
The design of MAKO with its silver colour and fluid exterior lines has been inspired by the Mako species of shark. Mako will be powered by a propulsion system that combines hydrogen, fuel cells and electric engines to be able to operate with a zero-carbon footprint. You will also be able to find battery storage system and solar panels which contribute to the yacht’s sustainable design.A key feature of Mako is a wide beach club platform for sports and activities with an aft garage door nearby for tender storage and manoeuvres. The wraparound aft deck also features a large seating area conceived as a soft “island” sunken into the teak aft deck that offers 270-degree views.Another main interior area is the "pavilion". Situated above the top deck, this space is intended to be used as an observatory, panoramic lounge, fitness studio or yoga space. Further inside the yacht is the "studio", where a double-height ceiling and large windows provide uninterrupted views and a greater connection to the sun, sea and sky and not only.State of Craft is now branching out into the superyacht industry with MAKO being its first nautical design.Credits: State of Craft
Destroyer HMS Duncan Saves a Yacht in Foul Weather
Sailors from HMS Duncan battled rough conditions to save a yacht drifting out of control into the middle of the English Channel.The Portsmouth-based destroyer responded to a plea for help from the coastguard after the yacht, with one person aboard, was reported heading out to off Weymouth with no working engine, power or communications – and in worsening seas.The Type 45 was anchored in Weymouth Bay around 5.30pm on Saturday amid trials and training following an extensive maintenance period.Despite sustained wind speeds of 30-35 knots, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility, the ship launched one of her Pacific 24 sea boats with a crew of seaman specialists, an engineer and a medic aboard.The motor yacht in distress was drifting rapidly offshore in the wind and tide around Portland Bill and had no flares or working radio equipment onboard.The sea boat crew were about to abandon the search as conditions grew worse, until Leading Engineering Technician Jack Davies spotted the yacht’s mast in the worsening gloom.He boarded the vessel, reassured and supported the sole sailor aboard and repaired the engine in difficult conditions.‘The conditions were challenging but the team and I had the right kit, in the right place at the right time to answer the call from the Coastguard,’ said seaman specialist Petty Officer Adam Drozdowski, the sea boat’s coxswain.Medical assistant Petty Officer Tom Austin added: ‘It took real skill to put us alongside in the heavy sea without hitting the other vessel, with waves crashing over the front of the boat.‘The individual onboard was in the later stages of shock and clearly in a dire condition. I’m glad that we were able to make a difference.’After restoring power to the vessel, the team handed the situation over to the RNLI Weymouth lifeboat team, before returning safely back to HMS Duncan.‘It was really good to put everything I’ve learned into practice under some really testing conditions,’ said Jack.HMS Duncan has now resumed her trials.Credits: Royal Navy
New Generation of Ultra-Fast Clubswan 80 Racer Launched in la Spezia
Nauta Design has been at the leading edge of a four-year project that ended on 23 June with the proud launch of the first ever ClubSwan 80 racer. As well as kickstarting a new one-design class, the rocket ship is the fifth incarnation of Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s famous My Song.It marks 35 years of collaboration between Nauta Design and this dedicated owner. But it is the first time that Nauta and Nautor’s Swan have worked together. The Finnish boat builder coordinated the project with Juan Kouyoumdjian on the naval architecture, Nauta for the interior and cockpit design and Persico Marine as build partner.Exposed carbon fibre, wafer-thin mahogany veneer and artful lighting will turn the first ClubSwan 80 yacht into a super stylish cruiser. The brief for Milan’s Nauta Design studio was to give a thoroughbred one-design racer a second character as daysailer and a super sporty cruiser. It was a fascinating project from the off, with the client intent on establishing the best approach for an 80ft racing monohull. The final choice went for a canting keel and a forward rotating canard that would provide the best compromise between performance and usability. This evolved into the ClubSwan 80 one design, where the goal is to recruit further owners to develop a competitive racing circuit.“The priority was speed, performance and fun, but the owner always likes to be able to use the yacht for a cruise with the family or with friends as well,” explained Nauta co-founder Mario Pedol. “He wanted to have good performance upwind as well as downwind - a rocket in both directions. After all, the first round the upwind mark has the advantage.”Once the key design features had been established, Persico Marine was selected to build the high-tech carbon fibre hull and structures, cleverly engineered by Pure Design & Engineering. The second stage of the challenge for Nauta was to design an interior for this first yacht which took nothing away from the purity of the racing experience, while adding some welcome finesse and comfort for cruising with the family. “We turned technology into elegance, thanks to Pigi’s inputs – inside it is all carbon,” says Pedol. “We worked in the base comforts for permitting cruising use of the boat: fridge, galley, some sort of aircon and showers.”The solution was to create a modular interior that drew on lightweight furniture and fabric bags that could be quickly and easily detached and taken ashore. Almost all the interior elements can be removed, from the gimbled oven and saloon tables to the carbon-fibre toilets in the three bathrooms. Just the bench seats in the saloon are built in, serving a structural purpose and doubling as watch berths when racing offshore. Even the simple aircon system is removable.The king size bed in the master cabin can be split in two then flipped to create a twin cabin. The bed here, as in the aft cabins, can be quickly unfastened and removed entirely for racing. Lighting was a major part of the design, which includes spot lighting and about 100 m of LED strings, mostly concealed inside the removable furnishings. In total it added just 4.5kg to the boat, after Nauta conducted a detailed analysis of the impact of different wattages. “Lighting was a massive topic on this boat,” says Martino Majno, sales and project manager. “Being a black hull, we’ve really played with three separate levels of lighting, starting with those needed just for racing, with discrete red lighting for night racing. For cruising, there are longitudinal indirect rope lights. We also played with functional, architectural lighting – focused on some specific areas.” “Mahogany veneer is used sparingly around spotlights and in strips throughout the accommodation to provide a touch of elegance, and a welcome gleam that contrasts with the carbon fibre. “Mahogany highlights are one of the client’s signatures,” says Pedol. “The boat also showcases laminated linen counters and tables – where flax fibres are laminated into resin”. Pedol says of the design: “It has been a real four-way project with our great friend Pigi. Since 1986 and our first My Song design, we have shared the love for both racing and enjoying life at sea in general!”Nautor’s Swan was founded in 1966 in Pietarsaari, Finland. The builder entered the superyacht market in 1999. Since then, the yard has continued building high-performance sailing yachts in three different lines; ClubSwan, Swan Yachts and Maxi Swan Yachts.Credits: Nauta Design
55m Al Waab Celebrates Triple Win at 2022 Boat International Design and Innovation Awards
This year Design & Innovation Awards were held in person in Milan on 22 June. Al Waab scoops triple win. Coming in just below the 500 gross-tonnage mark, despite a generous length of 55m, Vripack-designed Al Waab, built by Alia Yachts, scooping ‘Outstanding Exterior Design, Motor Yachts 40m to 59.9m’, ‘Best Interior Design, Motor Yachts 499GT and Below’ and ‘Best Naval Architecture, Displacement Motor Yachts’, the judges singled Al Waab out for her holistic interior, exterior and naval architecture. It’s a design approach that Vripack has long championed and places Al Waab at the forefront of yacht design.“Al Waab pulled ahead as a solid, smart design that’s slightly more efficient than its fellow nominees,” commented the judges. “Further tipping the balance in her favor was the holistic element of her naval architecture, exterior styling and interior arrangement.”Commenting on the awards wins, Vripack’s co-creative director Bart M. Bouwhuis, says: “Since 1961, Vripack’s design ethos has been underpinned by our holistic vision. Creating world-class interior and exterior designs that are conceived with expert naval architecture in mind not only delivers a yacht that comprehensively answers an owner’s brief, but one that gains worldwide industry recognition too.” Al Waab was delivered in 2021 for an owner, represented by SF Yachts, who sought a family home at sea. Despite her generous volume and a top speed of 13.5-14 knots, Al Waab’s twin Caterpillar C18 (725hp/533 kW) diesel engines burn 35% less fuel than similar-sized yachts. The Dutch design firm Vripack’s expertise comes to the fore with an optimized interior that accommodates a split-level master suite forward, six large cabins and a glass-walled convertible gym-cabin aft. Key design features include multiple drop-down terraces – with two in the master suite – a luminous glass staircase that connects the three decks, and a ‘breakfast nook’ where the family can share a convivial morning meal together. On the exterior, 286 sq. m of deck space gives a life outdoors. Inside, a natural, muted color scheme is accented with eye-catching details, such as a glittering gold-studded acrylic bulkhead, floor-to-ceiling windows and the advanced use of indirect lighting to seamlessly transition the yacht interior from day to night mode.Alia Yachts was founded in 2008 by Gokhan Çelik and Omer Koray. Located in the port of Antalya on the beautiful Turkish Riviera, Alia Yachts shipyard currently occupies approximately 8,000 sq. m, including three construction halls with their suites of specialist workshops and a dedicated interiors facility. With an additional 16,000 sq. m under development for 2019, Alia Yachts will rank among the top facilities in the region.​​Vripack is a yacht-design studio with a portfolio that represents over 7400 designs, made strong through its extensive naval architecture and engineering experience. From the moment they opened their doors in 1961, Vripack studio’s approach to design has been governed by the playful interaction between form and function.Credits: Vripack
The Yacht Design and Innovation Hub Merges with Designer Gallery at MYS
This September 2022, the Monaco Yacht Show organizers will extend the area of the Yacht Design & Innovation Hub to integrate the long-standing exhibitors of the Designer Gallery under one single exhibition.Launched at the 2021 MYS, the Yacht Design & Innovation Hub complemented the show’s historical Designer Gallery. The MYS aims to offer the next generation of yacht owners a one-of-a-kind visit experience into the world of superyacht design and future trends.Regular attendees or first-time visitors will reach the docks of Virage Chiron to meet about 25 yacht designers on their stands alongside the quay (ex-Designer Gallery located up to that point on Quai des Etats-Unis) and inside the 200 sq.m exhibition tent.Visitors will also attend the live presentations that will be hosted in collaboration with SuperYacht Times on the brand-new 100 sq. m conference room on the first floor. Designers will share their insights about current and future trends, innovative solutions in design or sustainable projects (up to 20 conferences over the 4 days of the show).This year the Monaco Yacht Show will be held from September 28 to October 1.Credits: MYS