A new owner for Bavaria Yachtbau looks to be in sight, with reports that a bidder’s binding offer is on the shipyard’s desk with specifics of the sale already having been negotiated.
According to reports in the daily regional newspaper Mainpost last Friday, the offer allows for the continuation and expansion of what was once Germany’s largest series production shipyard.
Bavaria’s cooperation partner is said to be an Italian manufacturer of luxury yachts that wants to expand its product portfolio into a cheaper price segment.
A spokesman for the new investor told the paper that the investor wants to remain anonymous until the contract is finally signed. The purchase price is said to be paid in cash.
The terms of the sale, according to the source, were negotiated on Thursday 30 August. According to the paper, the completion of the sale “only require the final legal examination and the approval of the creditors committee.” The contracts are due to be signed this week. The management of Bavaria Yachtbau has neither confirmed nor denied the statement.
It is highly unusual for a potential new owner of a shipyard to present plans to the public before a contract is signed. This is also the opinion of Bavaria’s interim managing director, Tobias Brinkmann, who was appointed in April to sell the shipyard. “However, this shows at least a serious interest in the continuation of the shipyard,” Brinkmann told the Mainpost.
Bavaria told Germany’s float magazine that further information could not be provided at this time. “It remains the case that the sale of Bavaria Yachtbau will take place in September.” It is not known which potential investor is behind the newspaper interview.
The potential partner of the current bidder, the newspaper states, has more than 40 years of experience in shipbuilding and a worldwide distribution network. Bavaria will also benefit from this in the future, the spokesman told Mainpost.
In the months before the insolvency, a large product offensive was undertaken by Bavaria to boost its sales in the larger luxury sailboat segment – a strategy that proved unsuccesful. It is envisaged now that the Italian partner mentioned in last Friday’s press report, will embark on a new strategy to increase the German builder’s presence at the top end of the market.
It is no coincidence that the potential new owner first publicly disclosed its plans to a regional newspaper that has its distribution area where Bavaria’s main plant is located. For the future owner, it is crucial to find a fully functioning company.
In the interview with Mainpost, the spokesman said that the potential new owner was primarily concerned with sending “a message to the approximately 600 Bavaria employees that he was willing to continue and expand the company.”
According to the Mainpost article the new investors are looking to continue production immediately after the sale. It is hoped that by spelling out its intentions, current employees will remain with the builder instead of looking for jobs elsewhere. “The immediate continuation is our biggest risk, because we have to be responsible for the costs from day one,” the investor’s spokesman explained.
The shipyard has continued to build boats since it went into voluntary administration back in April. “We plan to complete around 24 motor and sailing yachts in Giebelstadt in September,” said Brinkmann.
The current production figures are far below the company’s capacity. In May, Bavaria delivered around 30 boats in two weeks. Since July, the employees have been paid from the insolvency estate, and short-time working has been registered for employees at the yard’s headquarters until the end of September.
In any case, Bavaria hopes to be present at the autumn trade fairs – particularly the Cannes Yachting Festival. This was confirmed by Brinkmann in an interview with float magazine on 23 August.
The first week of September will show whether the remaining time until the start of the Cannes show is sufficient to set the foundation for the change of ownership. It would be the third time Bavaria Yachtbau has been sold since 2007.
In order to present himself as Bavaria’s new owner to potential customers in southern France, the investor is prepared to “make the trade fair fee of 150,000 euros available even before the final contract is signed.”
In a true case of brinkmanship, other interested parties are still thought to be in the running. But with the key autumn boat shows imminent, and the need to retain the staff, the purported Italian investor seems the most likely to finalise the deal.
By Stefan Gerhard