Florida-based private equity firm injects US$41m cash into US marina operator

Safe Harbor Marinas has received a US$41m infusion of cash from Weatherford Capital, the third multimillion-dollar investment from the Tampa, Florida-based private equity firm since 2017.

“We believe marinas are a unique and highly fragmented asset class offering significant upside from scale and institutionalisation,” Will Weatherford said in an email to the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Weatherford pumped US$40m into the Dallas, Texas-based Safe Harbor in 2017, followed by another US$10m in 2018.

“We identified Safe Harbor as the market leader with a strong management team capable of driving operational improvements across its portfolio while executing on its acquisition pipeline,” Weatherford added.

Safe Harbor Marinas has been on an acquisition tear acquiring five new properties in 2018 along with two boat yards and a marina this year, the latter announced just this week.

Safe Harbor also partnered with Koch Real Estate Investments in July of 2018, demonstrating broad interest in the marina market from a variety of investment firms.

Weatherford, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, told the Business Journal that there was not a particular industry the firm had its eye on and it is more focused on the cultures and leaders instead.

“As investors, we seek out quality teams, leaders and healthy cultures, not just assets and good ideas,” he said, adding that the company is looking for companies across the nation, but with a “strategic focus on Florida”.

Safe Harbor marinas operates 12 Florida properties, according to a listing on its website.