Leading UK yacht manufacturer to be sold

Posted on 3 Jun 2008 by The Manufacturer

The French luxury goods billionaire Bernard Arnault is purchasing one of Britain’s oldest boat manufacturers, Princess Yachts.

Arnault’s LVMH Group boasts a portfolio of prestige brands which includes Louis Vuitton and Fendi handbags, DKNY and Givenchy fashion and Moët et Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Krug and Veuve Clicquot champagne. It will now add the British luxury motor yacht manufacturer founded in Plymouth in 1965 which distributes models globally. Princess Yachts own and operate through over 1,000,000 square feet of vertically integrated factory facilities.

The purchase is being made by a consortium of Arnault’s business arms; his private investment firm, Groupe Arnault, a private equity firm, L Capital, and the aforementioned LVMH luxury goods vehicle.

Princess’ current owner, the South African billionaire Graham Beck, is thought to have rejected several bids for the company financed by debt since putting it up for sale a year ago.

A source for the Times Online said: “He wanted to make sure that whoever bought Princess didn’t put it at risk by loading it up with debt. He also wanted them to back the incumbent management.” To this latter end, the current executive chairman David King and managing director Chris Gates will continue in similar capacities and will receive equity stakes.

The deal is reported by the Telegraph to be worth £200 million though this is unconfirmed by Cavendish corporate finance, the selling agent involved. Insiders say a formal announcement will be made later today.