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

Monaco Yacht Show 2019: the highlights you might have missed
Key annual event of the yachting industry, the Monaco Yacht Show, took place from 25 to 28 September this year. Traditionally, it featured the most impressive fleet of acclaimed superyachts and new-builds, even attracting a record-breaking number of exhibitors this year. The largest number in the show’s history, 600 companies came to energize the yachting market, drawing an encouragingly vast and committed clientele to the show.Check Yacht Harbour’s list of the TOP 10 most impressive superyachts seen at the MYS 2019’ edition here.The organisers report, after the 29th edition of the MYS, feedback from the exhibitors is pragmatic and positive: although the market could be stronger, positive signs are to be noted, including the higher number of private visitors present at Monaco’s Port Hercule this year. Furthermore, several sales deals have been closed after the show, such as 67-metre Heesen superyacht Project Sparta for 2023 delivery or 125-metre Project Jag signed by Lürssen.The MYS private concierge service invited over 211 VIP visitors (compared to 150 in 2018), linking them up with the show’s exhibitors and triggering over 50 yacht visits. The majority of the potential clients came from the USA, Russia, the UK, China and India. According to the exhibitors’ feedback, the definite trend in visitor profile comprises a broader range of countries and a wider age bracket.During the major event in the world of luxury yachting, some of the latest superyacht projects, technologies and joint ventures have been unveiled by the leading yards. The list of premiered concepts included among others Falcon Rig Gallery by Perini Navi or 70-metre superyacht project S702 by Tankoa.Bringing together some of the most outstanding vessels, the show increased in attendance this year by the albeit slight (31,565 visitors compared to 30,400 in 2018).This year’s edition of the MYS showcased 125 superyachts with an estimated total worth of around €4 billion, the most impressive fleet of vessels ever to be presented there. The superyacht exhibition included 44 new models and 14 megayachts over 70 metres in length, not to mention the 111-metre TIS and the 106-metre Amadea. Although the average length remained stable at 49.5m, the average price for a motoryacht exhibited at the show reached €37.8 million this year. 600 participating companies occupied a large section of Port Hercule, split into different themed areas. Yacht builders, brokers and designers set up their stands on the quaysides, close to their yachts. Tender and water toy manufacturers showcased no fewer than 55 pieces of equipment, with half of them presented for the first time. Their stands were mainly situated on the port’s Quai Antoine Ier, where the yacht show’s Car Deck displayed 30 collector or custom-built cars and motorbikes. The show’s many nautical equipment manufacturers and country pavilions were set up in tents on the port’s Darse Sud and Quai Albert Ier. The Parvis Piscine tent was dedicated to luxury products and services, with a fully revamped Upper Deck Lounge, reserved for the show’s partners from the luxury industry, spanned over 2 floors.On the eve of the MYS, 4 prizes were awarded at the 6th Monaco Yacht Show Superyacht Awards ceremony. The list of winners comprised three vessels. The 64-metre Sanlorenzo flagship superyacht Attila received the MYS/RINA Award for her design that complies with the environmental standards established by RINA. The brand new Lürssen superyacht TIS picked MYS Interior Design Award. Last but not the least, the 80-metre Abeking & Rasmussen Excellence won two prizes, the MYS Exterior Design Award, and the ceremony’s most prestigious award, the MYS Finest New Superyacht Award.The release expresses:The 2019 MYS carried a note of optimism, supported by its exhibitors' commitment to showcasing their finest products and services and by an increasingly varied final-client profile. The date has been set for next year’s event to confirm this positive trend on the Monaco Yacht Show’s 30th anniversary.
Jho Low's former superyacht Tranquility listed for sale again after 6 months
The 91.5-metre Oceanco superyacht Tranquility has been listed for sale via Camper & Nicholsons, who has been responsible for her charter management. The superyacht was acquired for $126,000,000 by Genting Malaysia Bhd in April 2019, as a result of corruption scandal linked to Jho Low.The long running saga around the yacht dates back to August 2018, when the Indonesian authorities seized Low Taek Jho’s superyacht at the request of the US Department of Justice, and transferred her to Malaysia. It is alleged, that the yacht was originally purchased by Low Taek Jho using money embezzled from the 1MDB state fund.Shortly afterwards, Tranquility was put on sale as a part of the effort to recover funds stolen by Low and his cohorts from the state fund, according to The Independent. In the meantime, the vessel’s maintenance had cost the government over $3,500,000 since her reclaiming in August 2018.After several rounds of sale process, the highest bid was received from Genting Group, a Malaysia-based investment holding and management company, engaged in
Heesen sells 67m superyacht Project Sparta for 2023 delivery
One of the leading Dutch builders, Heesen has announced the sale of YN 20067, a 67-metre steel FDHF fully designed by UK-based studio Winch Design. With her delivery scheduled to 2023, she is the third sale by Heesen in 2019.First presented at the Monaco Yacht Show 2018 as Project Avanti, this new design has captured the attention of the client with its dynamic architecture. The owner, an experienced charterer and yacht connoisseur, has appointed Arcon Yachts as project manager. The elegant sheer line of Project Sparta connects a strong bow to an inviting transom, trademarked with a stepped aft deck area with a five-metre infinity pool. The yacht also features a raised pilothouse conceived by Winch Design for a new-look sporty profile.With a top speed of 16 knots and FDHF devised by Van Oossanen, Project Sparta is said to be extremely efficient, too. She features a maximum range of 4,500 nautical miles at 12 knots. The superyacht features impressive interior volume of 1,200 GT. The layout is characterised by a full beam salon on the main deck. This feature, unique on a vessel of this size, makes Project Sparta a true pocket mega-yacht. The indoor dining area connects to the aft deck terrace, which is protected on both sides for optimal comfort, and allows for a smooth transition, both at anchor and when underway. Four guest suites are located forward on the main deck. Thanks to a sliding partition, the two forward cabins can convert to a full-beam VIP.An off-centre spiral staircase with glass elevator services all three decks. The lower deck houses a walk-in wellness area with oval Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and gymnasium, as well as the crew quarters and galley.The owner has reserved the entire bridge deck for himself. Two suites are located one forward with its private outdoor lounge area located fore, and the other facing aft with access to the private terrace with outdoor dining and lounging.Meanwhile, the yard has just shared construction update on 60-metre steel Project Falcon. The builder also confirms that no less than 13 yachts are currently under construction at Heesen facility.
Twin superyacht design: 88m S/Y Lotus paired with 70m companion vessel
Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman partnered with ThirtyC design studio and Dykstra Naval Architects have introduced a 'double' superyacht concept during the Monaco Yacht Show 2019. The design concept complements the earlier revealed 88-metre sailing superyacht Lotus with a 70-metre companion vessel Lotus’ Shadow.A 'next-generation' twin project from the British design studio ThirtyC, ‘Lotus’ bridges the gap between the experience of sailing and the adventure of the motor yacht lifestyle. Designed with the combination of dual-mast DynaRig sailing yacht and rugged Support Vessel, Lotus aims at unbridled freedom for both the journey and the destination.The lightweight, high-tech 88-metre sailing yacht represents the primary vessel in this 'private armada', offering owners speed, precision sailing and the ability to cruise the world in comfort or compete in global superyacht regattas. This versatility is due to the world’s first twin-mast DynaRig structure, meaning Lotus has the potential to become one of the most technologically advanced and fastest sailing yacht of her kind on the water.Drawn with signature ThirtyC style, Lotus has been born out of collaboration with Royal Huisman and DynaRig specialists Dykstra Naval Architects. The project opts for complete customisation, open spaces, reduced complexity in terms of both rigging and crew as well as an engineering package that fits both luxury and agility on the water.Able to accommodate up to 16 guests across eight cabins and a master suite, Lotus features a 2,200 square-metre sail area and a top speed of 20 knots.As to the 70-metre support vessel Lotus’ Shadow, she is designed to prepare for the sailing yacht’s arrival at any given destination. She will be packed to the brim with toys, tenders, cars, helicopters and other items that enhance the experience of travelling the globe.The vessel is highlighted by a 1.312-square-foot space for housing tenders, toys, helicopters, cars and even a submarine upon request. Moreover, she would offer room for the crew of 18 and 8 guests across 4 cabins.The motor yacht side of the duo, the aggressively styled, futuristic and clean design of the support vessel works with the aesthetic of the sailing yacht to act as a complete package. On the water, the functionality of the support vessel also complements the lifestyle of the sailing yacht, bringing with it entourages, pilots, doctors, and any guides or team members to help make the journey more than unique.
Ferretti Group withdraws from listing on stock exchange
Italian superyacht builder Ferretti SpA has announced its withdrawal from public listing of 30% of the company’s shares on the Milan stock exchange. The decision has been altered from the earlier course on returning to the listing.The group already considered a return to the stock market back in 2008 but then the process was hindered by global financial crisis. The current change of plans is stipulated by no sufficient valuation under current market conditions, despite a number of positive applications, the company says.The first auction with the participation of Ferretti on the Milan Stock Exchange was to take place on October 21. The company planned to put up a 30% stake. However, by the end of the IPO period, which lasted first from October 1 to 10, and then prolonged until October 15.Alberto Galassi, CEO of Ferretti SpAFerretti saw lowering of its indicative price range for shares from the initial target of €2.50 to €3.70 per share to only between €2.00 and €2.50. That said, it would have meant a market valuation of € 581 million instead of aimed €1.08 billion.Ferretti was acquired by Chinese industrial conglomerate Weichai Group in 2012. Under the Chinese management, the company succeeded to return from the crisis stage back to profit in 2017, paying off the debts through the activity of Riva and Pershing brands.Currently, Weichai Group controls 75% of the company’s stake, with 13% bought by an heir of Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the iconic Italian supercar maker, in 2016.However, in the new prospective, Alberto Galassi, CEO of the company, said in 2020 a share of about 30% might be sold to some new investor from Europe, reported Reuters.For the moment, The Ferretti Group comprises eight brands: Ferretti Yachts, Riva, Pershing, CRN, Custom Line, Itama, Mochi Craft and Wally, the latest acquisition closed in April 2019. The brands portfolio is set to produce 43 models altogether. Meanwhile, the company revealed at the Cannes Yachting Festival 2019, it had received an equity injection of €250 million from Weichai Group and Piero Ferrari through F Investments.