Arrow yacht

The most influential business news stories from the yachting sector in 2023

19 December 2023 • by Gabrielle Lazaridis

There were plenty of key business decisions that helped to shape the yachting industry landscape over the course of this year. From strategic M&As to surprise collaborations with other sectors, BOATPro revisits some of the most influential moments of 2023.

1. Global Order Book reveals Turkey is now the second-largest yacht builder nation in the world

BOAT International's most recent Global Order Book has revealed that Turkey has risen to become the second-largest superyacht builder nation in the world. Sitting below Italy, Turkey is entering 2024 with 132 yachts (above 24 metres) in development and 5,838 metres of production. This is up from last year when shipyards in Turkey reported 102 projects totalling 4,167 metres. Meanwhile, the Netherlands has been removed from second position but still maintains a strong order book of 80 projects amounting to a total of 4,959 metres of production.

Read More/Global Order Book reveals Turkey enters 2024 with 132 superyachts in build

2. Brokerage market reports highest sales month on record in May

Yacht brokerage sales reached an all-time monthly high in May, securing €863.2 million across 45 sales (including three new builds). The record-breaking figure was led by the sale of Lürssen's 115-metre Ahpo in what is believed to be the most expensive brokerage sale in history. The yacht was sold in an in-house deal by Moran Yacht & Ship with an asking price of €330 million. Other high-profile brokerage sales from the month included the 75-metre Feadship yacht Arrow (asking €139.9 million with Fraser and sold with Kitson Yachts introducing the buyer) and Heesen's 60-metre motor yacht Lusine (asking €76.6 million with Burgess and KAYZ Marine and sold with Fraser introducing the buyer). According to Brandon Kummer and Michael Tabor of Kitson Yachts, several factors contributed to the unprecedented sales velocity in May including pent-up demand, high-quality inventory, the conclusion of the boat show season and an eagerness to secure a yacht for the 2023 summer season. 

Read More/Brokerage market roars back with record €863M in sales for May

3. Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund buys into Azimut-Benetti Group

Italian shipyard Azimut-Benetti welcomed a new minority shareholder in 2023 after Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund (PIF) purchased a 33 per cent stake in the company. The added investment is meant to support the shipyard's next phase of "dimensional and technical growth", and has since given rise to two new flagship models (the Motopanfilo 45M and the B.Yond 55M) and a new design feature called the Veranda Deck. Shortly after the announcement, the Group's long-time partner Tamburi Investment Partners (TIP) announced it had divested part of its holdings and was left with a stake of 8.09 per cent, signifying TIP's "continuing confidence" in the long-term growth of the Group.

Read More/Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund buys into Azimut-Benetti Group

4. Two men charged for hiding sanctioned Russian owner’s ties to superyacht Tango

The 77.7-metre Tango became embroiled in an investigation by the United States Justice Department after sanctions were levied against her ultimate beneficiary owner (UBO) in 2018. Five years later, the Justice Department announced it had charged British national Richard Masters and Russian national Vladislav Osipov with facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme concerning the yacht's ownership and operation. Part of the scheme allegedly involved creating a complicated ownership structure of shell companies to obfuscate the UBO's involvement with the vessel, as well as creating a false name for the yacht.

Read More/Bank fraud charges announced in connection to Russian-owned superyacht Tango

5. Ferretti Group makes debut on Italian stock exchange

Ferretti Group S.p.A. made waves this year when it began trading on the Milan Euronext Exchange in June, making it the "first and only Group in the world to achieve this double listing in Asia and Europe", according to CEO Alberto Galassi. The company was already listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange following an initial IPO valued at €890 million. With the addition of the Italian Stock Exchange, Ferretti Group's market capitalisation is estimated to be approximately €1 billion. The Group has stated that the offering has attracted interest from both Italian and international investors, promising a stronger and broader institutional shareholder base.

Read More/Ferretti Group makes debut on Italian stock exchange

6. Princess Yachts closes sale to US investment firm

Following a period of rapid growth, British shipyard Princess Yachts announced it would be seeking new investment to expand its facilities and meet rising demand. It was later revealed that US equity firm KPS Partners had acquired majority ownership of Princess in a move designed to help "broaden KPS' existing portfolio of manufacturers spanning the US and Europe". A few months later, Will Green was appointed CEO of Princess and announced the yard would invest £5 million into raising the capacity of its primary South Yard facility with an additional £35 million going towards new product development. 2023 also saw two new models from Princess, the Y95 and Y80, both of which had their global debut in Cannes.

Read More/Princess Yachts closes sale to US investment firm

7. Lürssen to acquire 25% of Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven

Credit: Carl Groll

Lürssen was granted approval from Germany's national competition regulatory agency to purchase a 25 per cent stake in Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven after it was determined the two shipbuilding companies were not in direct conflict with one another. According to the Federal Cartel Office, the deal was permitted on the basis that Lloyd Werft currently "has no marine-related business activities", in addition to the high number of German and international competitors within the global marine sector. However, the Federal Cartel Office added that the decision was issued under the expectation that the competitive situation in the global marine sector would not undergo significant changes.

Read More/Lürssen to acquire 25% of Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven

8. TISG unveils 72-metre superyacht collaboration with Giorgio Armani

Earlier this year, it was revealed that The Italian Sea Group (TISG) and legendary Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani would collaborate on a series of two custom superyacht projects. The first of which is a 72-metre yacht due for delivery in 2024, which was glimpsed for the first time at a private event held in TISG's headquarters for 650 guests. According to founder and CEO of TISG Giovanni Costantino, the partnership is part of a wider strategy to become involved with luxury Italian brands, following on from the yard's previous collaboration with Automobili Lamborghini on a yacht that was brought to market in 2020.

Read More/TISG and Giorgio Armani host industry for star-studded unveiling of 72 metre superyacht

9. Sanlorenzo presses ahead with strategic development plan

Sanlorenzo has continued to make inroads in its vertical integration strategy, with not one, not two, but three major acquisitions within one year. At the beginning of 2023, the Italian yard had just completed its acquisition of leading charter company Equinoxe for €2.1 million, followed by a new majority stake in furniture supplier Duerre S.r.l. and Asia yacht dealer Simpson Marine Limited. The purchases were made in line with Sanlorenzo's "Road to 2030" business model, which also includes a three-step strategy gearing towards the launch of the first net-zero superyacht in 2027. To that end, 2023 also saw Lloyd's Register award Sanlorenzo a certificate of approval for its Fuel Cell system (designed in collaboration with Siemens Energy) that will debut with the first unit of the yard's new 50Steel line in 2024. A similar development from Ferretti Group (that saw CRN receive the green light for a fuel cell-powered superyacht) points to an industry-wide effort towards more sustainable yachting.

Read More/Sanlorenzo finalises acquisition of Simpson Marine Group