Despite a raft of premature media reports regarding a new owner having been found for the Oyster Yachts brand, a KPMG spokeswoman confirmed to IBI that deal was not actually completed until about 17.30pm yesterday.
“The sale literally went through a minute before I clicked send. I know various stories had already been released pre-official sale,” the spokeswoman commented.
UK software entrepreneur, Richard Hadida, is confirmed as the new owner through a new company, Richard Hadida Yachting Ltd (RHY) of which he will be the CEO. Records at Companies House show that this business was formed on March 16, and 100 £1 shares were issued. The company has an office based at New Kings Court, Tollgate, Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh.
While Hadida is stated to be the only director of the company at this stage it is known that he has appointed, Kim Stubbs, as COO and he has been seconded from PwC where is an operational restructuring expert. Stubbs has previous yachting experience as he reportedly helped Sunseeker's move from a loss position to profit. To do this he reduced costs through renegotiating supply chain contracts and introducing production efficiencies which cut man-hours and time to market.
Hadida’s management team also includes Paul Adamson, a former captain of the Oyster 875 Lush and experienced skipper. As to three former Oyster executives including CEO David Tydeman, IBI understand they have been told that their services are no longer required.
Having no previous involvement with yachting but being successful in buying Oyster has reportedly not gone down well with one or more of the other bidders of which there were seven including a number of high net worth individuals who are said to own Oysters. He wants to retrieve as many of the 370 plus workers that were laid off but several are known to have taken jobs at other companies including the Discovery Yachts Group.
Hadida, not surprisingly, is not saying how much he paid for Oyster but he plans to resume boat building immediately with plans that include a new smaller Oyster model below 14.3m (47ft), the current smallest model in the range.
Hadida readily admits to having no boat building experiences but he says “It has been my privilege to sail an Oyster yacht for some years” and that it was “My passion for the brand that has driven my decision to acquire the business.” He is also adamant that he wants to keep it British. "I firmly believe,” he commented, “that we must save this prestigious British yacht builder and continue to nurture and grow the Oyster Group for the long term."
He indicates that he can bring “some business skills and common sense” to Oyster and that some “hard and quick decisions were needed to make the company a sustainable business.”
The assets actually purchased by RHY include all the tooling and IP; shareholdings in associated companies, but, significantly not the liabilities relating to the Polina Star 111 issue which was the main cause of Oyster going into administration. This liability amounts to around £7m. The assets include a current order book valued in excess of £80m.
The KPMG spokeswoman confirmed the shareholdings of the companies involved with Oyster Marine Holdings Ltd as follows:
- Oyster Yachts Limited
- Oyster Leasing Limited
- Southampton Yacht Services Limited
- Oyster Brokerage Limited
- Oyster Marine Events Limited
- Oyster Palma SL
Going forward some of the key challenges for the new management team will be to restart and complete work on 26 builds underway. This includes the first Oyster 118 superyacht, the new flagship of the brand, which is due to launch later this year.
Hadida points to the Oyster range being thinned out in the future. He was quoted as saying: “I think there were some questionable decisions made in the range strategy, where models were very close together such as the 825 and 885, which require different tooling, and we will refine a smaller range.”
“We are also actively looking,” he added, “with Rob Humphreys, who is integral to this, at a couple of 40-something footers in the range, possibly a super high-quality 42, because there’s an enormous market there.”
As 2018 is Oyster’s 45th anniversary it is likely to be a year to remember.