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

Soaring: Abeking launches 68m superyacht
Abeking & Rasmussen have confirmed the launch of their new 68-meter superyacht, Soaring. The yacht had emerged out of her shed earlier this week and has now been lowered into the water for the first time this morning.Designed by Focus Yacht Design and project managed by Superyacht Technical Services, the yacht, which is set to become available for charter in the summer 2020, comes in at a size of over 1,500 GT.Soaring's upper deck features its master suite with a private owner's aft deck and a library. The yacht's remaining 5 guest cabins will be located on the main deck and catered to by a crew of 17.
Billionaire fined €52 million for transporting a Picasso out of Spain
Jaime Botin, part of the Satander banking dynasty, had been caught transporting a Picasso painting on his 67-meter sailing yacht Adix back in 2015. Now Madrid courts have fined the Spanish billionaire for €52.4 million and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.Botin, an active art collector, purchased Picasso's "Head of a Young Woman" painting back in 1977 for his collection. In February 2013, he tried to sell the painting at a Christies' auction in London but the art work couldn't leave Spain at their culture ministry's decision.Spain has some of the strictest laws when it comes to national heritage. According to them, any work of art over 100 years old that is considered culturally important in the view of their culture ministry can be deemed a national treasure, requiring its owner to get a permit in order to transport it out of Spain. Botin's permit was denied back in 2012.In 2015, Botin, according to Bloomberg, had his driver transport the painting from his Madrid home to Valencia where his 67-meter sailing yacht Adix was docked. When setting sail in June 2015, her captain didn't include the artwork on the list of onboard items. Soon after it set sail for Corsica, from where Botin had chartered a jet to ferry it to Geneva where he intended to keep it according to the publication.Tipped off that Botin's permit for the export of the Picasso hadn't gone through earlier, they inspected the yacht and found the painting in the captain's cabin.Adix itself is currently in Australia, finishing up her refit programme at the yard Brisbane. The yacht is set to remain in the South Pacific up to the America's Cup in Auckland in 2021. The painting found onboard the yacht in 2015 had an estimated value of $27 million, with experts saying it could now be even more. It has since become the property of the Spanish State.With a net worth valued by Forbes at $1.7 billion, Jaime Botin is the largest shareholder of Spanish bank Bankinter and a member of Spain's most prominent banking families. His great grandfather had founded Spain's largest bank, Santander.
Oyster's founder Matthews returns to its board
Richard Matthews, original founder of Oyster Yachts, has returned to its board as a non-executive director. This follows Richard Hadida buying the company in 2018. Matthews had founded the sailing yacht manufacturer back in 1973.Oyster Yachts built its first 32ft sailing boat in 1973. From there it gradually extended its range of sailing yachts finding its sweet spot in 56ft to 125ft units designed by Robert Humphreys. In 2008 the company was sold to private equity firm Balmoral Capital for £70 million, before the firm disposed of it to HTP Investments for £15 million in 2012.Following a failure of the internal hull structure on Polina Star III, an Oyster 825 model, which led to the yacht sinking in 2015. This led to a recall of 4 other units and a dent in the builder's cash flow despite a £83 million order book in 2017. The following year, the company went into administration, before being purchased by Richard Hadida.Hadida is mostly known for founding Evolution Gaming, a company that powers most online casino games and currently trades on the Swedish stock market with a market cap of near €5 billion. His fried, yacht owner and automotive mogul Eddie Jordan was formerly also involved in the takeover bid with Oyster but later backed out."It is hugely important to me personally that the founder of the brand [Richard Matthews] I hold so close to my heart has given it his seal of approval by joining our board." Hadida explained. "Having restored the company to its former glory with the support of a fantastic team – from talented craftsmen to dedicated management – this feels like confirmation that Oyster is once again synonymous with quality and excellence, just as it was when Richard founded it back in 1973".
Double Down: Numarine Sells 5 XP Yachts
Turkish shipyard Numarine has announced the sale of 5 yachts from its XP series, bringing the total in the series up to 10. Four of these will be 26-meters in length and one 32-meters."These achievements indicate the relevance and popularity of the series" commented Numarine founder Omer Malaz. "We are very pleased that five more international customers will be able to experience what high quality and impeccable Numarine style are."All built on the same platform with identical layouts, the four 26XP yachts will feature a spacious flybridge, a main salon on the main deck and 4 guest cabins on the lower deck. Interior designs and finishes will be customised to the owner's tastes.The only substantial difference between the units will be the hulls, with one of them being semi-displacement with MAN engines of 1,200hp each, whilst the remaining ones will be displacement units with engines of 560-800hp each also manufactured by MAN.The 26XP and 32XP series were both designed by Can Yalman with naval architecture by Umberto Tagliavini. The Numarine 32XP model was being marketed at just under €9.3 million whilst the 26XP was asking just over €3.8 million.
Sanlorenzo launches 52-meter Lady Lena
Italian shipyard Sanlorenzo has confirmed the launched of its 4th 52-meter yacht, Lady Lena. Purchased by her owner in 2018, she is set to be delivered in March 2020. Another four units of the Steel 52 series are currently under construction at the yard.Coming in at 499 gross tons, the 52 Steel was formerly the flagship series of Sanlorenzo before the introduction of larger models to the mix. Designed by Mauro Micheli from Officina Italiana Design, the first unit launched was Seven Sins.Amongst Lady Lena key features, similarly to her sisterships, is a 94-square-meter beach club which features two fold-out platforms on both sides of the yacht. A lounge area is located directly underneath a pool with a glass bottom aft of the main deck. Sistership Seven SinsPowered by twin MTU engines, Lady Lena will reach a top speed of 17 knots and cruise at 15 knots. At an economical speed of 11 knots, she will be able to cross the Atlantic with a 4,000 nm max range.One of the world's largest yacht shipyards, Sanlorenzo went public in December 2019 at a market cap of just over €550 million on the Italian stock exchange. In 2018, the group posted revenues of €327 million, a third of which came from its superyacht division.