Germany’s once largest shipyard continues production without having announced a new investor

In mid-April, the news hit the boating industry like a rock: Bavaria Yachtbau, until then the largest shipyard for sailing and motor yachts in Germany, was bankrupt. CEO Frank Henkel had to go, media reports about debts in the three-digit million euro range and the wrong strategy towards luxury yachts. The owners, financial investors Anchorage and Oaktree, had pulled the ripcord only days before. Since then, interim CEO Tobias Brinkmann has been trying to find a buyer for the shipyard while running the company under his own management.

Exactly four months after the announcement of the insolvency, negotiations and talks are still ongoing. There are said to be substantially interested parties who seriously want to acquire and continue the company. “There are offers for the purchase of Bavaria,” Brinkmann said today in an interview with float magazine. “We hope to announce a decision on the sale within the next few weeks.”

This means that Bavaria’s CEO is not quite on schedule. In order to keep the company attractive for a buyer, the shipyard now continues to produce after the end of the summer factory close – without a new owner.

“We plan to complete about 24 motor and sailing yachts in Giebelstadt in September,” says Brinkmann. The figures are far below the company’s capacity with around 600 employees. In May 2018, Bavaria delivered around 30 boats in two weeks. Since July, the employees have been paid out of the insolvency assets. At present, short-time working is in effect at the headquarters of the shipyard.

According to Brinkmann’s statements, there are purchase announcements by customers “in clear three-digit numbers” for new sailing yachts and motorboats from Bavaria. Presenting the potential buyer of the shipyard such a full order book should facilitate the sale. So far, however, Brinkmann has not been able to present a successor for the financial investors that Bavaria gave up in April as their own investment.

“We had a series of interesting and prominent prospective buyers from the industry,” comments the CEO, answering speculation about possible prospective buyers. According to a media report, a group of bidders led by Bavaria’s German competitor Hanse Yachts AG in Greifswald, marine retailer AW Niemeyer, and motorhome manufacturer Hymer were interested in acquiring Bavaria.

Florian Nierich, responsible for marketing and communication at Hanse Yachts, commented today: “Of course we looked at Bavaria. We looked at the business model and considered whether it would make sense for us. We quickly realised that Bavaria did not fit into our concept. I can’t confirm that we were in negotiations with AW Niemeyer about a bidding syndicate.”

Bavaria Catamarans in France, formerly known as Nautitech and 100% owned by Bavaria Yachtbau, is not affected by the insolvency. The recently acquired manufacturer of multihull boats is also for sale. Whether as part of a complete sale of the shipyard group or separately, Brinkmann left open.

Whether the two new flagships – the Bavaria C65 (sail) and Bavaria R65 (motor) – will still be built in Croatia is currently unclear. “We are currently examining whether these models can also be built in Giebelstadt in the future,” says Brinkmann.

Bavaria will be represented at some of the autumn boat shows. This includes the Cannes Yachting Festival, which will start shortly. “From our point of view, the autumn trade fairs in September offer a good opportunity for the new owner of Bavaria to announce the new start publicly,” he said.

Media reports have stated that offers of €25m-€30m for the Bavaria shipyard were acceptable to the owners. Brinkmann commented: “The purchase price for Bavaria is determined by the price estimation of the prospective buyers. I expect this purchase price to be significantly lower than the price achieved by the former shareholders in 2007.”

In January, the German manufacturer had booked almost a complete hall with its “Bavaria World” at boot Düsseldorf. In the months prior to the insolvency, a product offensive was undertaken in the segment of larger sailing yachts in order to boost sales in the luxury segment. This strategy has turned out to be a flop before – directly after the first takeover of Bavaria by hedge funds in 2008. Whoever the new owner of Bavaria will be, the strategic reorientation is still pending.