The question over which organisation will acquire the long-term rights to manage one of industry’s premier boat shows remains open

The Anglo-Dutch business information and services company Relx PLC, owner of Reed Exhibitions, is pursuing its legal action against France’s Federation des Industries Nautiques (FIN) leaving the latter’s quest to take over the show still in doubt.

The long-running saga over who has the rights to own and manage the Cannes Boat Show is now heading into its third year of litigation. This follows Reed’s decision to lodge an appeal against the January 8th court ruling from the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris which awarded ownership and management rights of the show to FIN.

Reed did not accept the ruling which it claimed to be unenforceable and has now appealed against the decision to the Paris Cour de Appel for a further ruling on the dispute which could ultimately end up at the Cour de Cassation (France’s supreme court of appeal) for a final resolution – a process which could take a further 12 to 18 months.

The action has already been through several conflict resolution sessions and court hearings since first raised in 2016, including an attempt at mediation by the mayor of Cannes. The legal costs both sides have incurred will have been considerable and when resolved will also involve compensatory damages for one side or the other.

The FIN’s last communication on the subject in January assumed that it had won the battle following the Tribunal’s ruling that Reed could no longer represent itself as the owners or managers of the show – overturning Reed’s assertion that it had a legal right to manage the show until 2041 based on its existing contract with FIN.

Cannes' Port Canto

In 2019, Cannes’ Port Canto will be dedicated to the display of more than 100 monohull and multihull sailboats, along with some 50 yachts on offer for sale and charter and the fast-growing ’yacht toys’ segment.

Meanwhile plans for the 2019 show, running from 10 -15 September under Reed’s management, are now well advanced. The most significant change to the show this year involves the layout which will see a move of all sailboat exhibits to the Port Pierre Canto which will relieve the pressure on the available exhibition area in the Vieux Port.

Coming at the start of the European show season, the Cannes Yachting Festival has become a significant event on the international boat show calendar and the venue of choice for many builders introducing their latest models. In 2018, Cannes counted 51,000 visitors on hand to see 638 boats on display – with 122 of these representing world premieres.

Reed’s parent, the UK-based Relix announced its 2018 results two weeks ago revealing sales of £7.5 billion and a net adjusted profit contribution after tax of £1.7 billion, with an approximate market capitalisation of £33 billion. The company employs more than 30,000 people worldwide.

The FIN was created in 1964 to defend, represent and promote the boat industry’s activities in France and around the world. It is the voice of more than 5,500 companies and its members, grouped together in 11 boat industry and services sectors, represent more than 80% of the industry’s total turnover approaching €5 billion. The FIN took over the management of the Paris Boat Show from Reed in 2017.