Over the past two years, three Chinese industrial conglomerates have made substantial investments in the boatbuilding sector, acquiring majority and minority shares in three iconic yacht brands: Sanlorenzo, Sunseeker and Ferretti, ranked as #2, #3 and #5 respectively in the 2014 Global order Book. IBI takes a look at the Chinese companies behind the acquisitions of these top yacht builders, including a glimpse of their ambitions.

Any fan of the mystery genre will know that savvy detectives never like to give credence to coincidence. so is it a coincidence that three of the top five superyacht builders on the 2014 Global order Book are now partly owned and heavily financed by three heavyweight chinese conglomerates?

Not likely. Things don’t usually happen by chance domestic economy while sustaining high growth targets. The main thrust of this outward bound ambition thus far has been the acquisition of assets in the United states and Europe. The opportunity to take advantage of Europe’s financial woes by picking up assets at bargain prices has been an added lure, allowing Chinese firms to acquire top brands as a quick route to global success.

Before the crisis, Ferretti was valued at around ¤1.7bn

Before the crisis, Ferretti was valued at around ¤1.7bn

China: The great investor 

Industry feedback on the new Chinese investors in the industry has been mixed. Some lament the loss of home grown iconic brands to china while others have expressed worries about the erosion of domestic jobs, technical know-how and perhaps quality. thus far, executives of Ferretti, Sunseeker and Sanlorenzo have expressed nothing but enthusiasm about their Chinese partners. The three companies seem thrilled with their new partners, the extensive funding they bring for development and more intimate access to china’s growing market – as well as a free hand at running the business.

At the same time, these European builders have been emphatic in stating that their businesses will retain their production heritage and technology base in Italy and the UK. Despite these protestations, the Chinese companies behind these builders are heavy weight conglomerates with deep pockets as well as lofty ambitions. They will be the ones pulling the financial levers and thus determining the longer term fate of these builders.

NOTE: This is an excerpt of the article featured in the April/May edition of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can access and download the report from the website.