China's Wanda Group may invest in Sunseeker
Published: Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Subject to regulatory approval, leading UK yacht builder Sunseeker could have a new majority shareholder within weeks. Sunseeker issued a press statement confirming that discussions with an unnamed third party are in progress “over the sale of a majority stake in the business with any deal being subject to the approval of various regulators.” In an interview with Bloomberg media, Gordon Hui of Sunseeker Asia confirmed that Dalian Wanda was the company interested in buying a large stake in the builder, and that its investment would aid in the expansion into China. Sunseeker Asia has enjoyed renewed sales so far this year, with several large yachts going to Asia-based buyers, many in China.
If successful the deal would also see new investment from the existing management and founder Robert Braithwaite. Stewart McIntyre, Sunseeker’s chief executive, said: “The discussions are ongoing but I cannot add any more. If successful it will not take months before reaching an outcome. Nothing will change. The current management team will remain including founder Robert Braithwaite. That was a pre-requisite to the talks.”
Dalian Wanda is also reportedly the same company that bought into Sunseeker China, one of the two Chinese mainland distributors of Sunseekers. The other is Sunseeker Asia. Sunseeker China has recently been reorganised around a new management team. The Financial Times recently quoted Wang Jianlin, chairman and founder of Dalian Wanda, as saying: “We bought the best yacht company in the UK.” He did not, however, go as far as naming Sunseeker.
A statement by Sunseeker International said: “Sunseeker will remain a British company, headquartered in Poole, Dorset, and will maintain its existing primary production bases in the UK, along with its current workforce and infrastructure. The existing management team and representatives of FL Partners will remain on the Sunseeker Board and founder Robert Braithwaite will remain as group president."
Sunseeker has been redesigning its line with more aggressive styling, and began work on a new, 155-foot flagship (pictured above) that is due for launch in 2014.