Safe Harbor answers rumors about sale

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Safe Harbor Marinas CEO Baxter Underwood recently responded to a story on Bloomberg.com that one of its original investors, American Infrastructure Funds, is exploring a $2 billion sale of the marina group. Underwood said that Safe Harbor, which acquired its 95th property earlier this month, has multiple capital partners. It will remain on its original growth path, he said in response to a list of questions.

“The various partners are of different size, and their funds have different time horizons,” Underwood said, replying to a question about the story that American Infrastructure Funds planned to sell the group. “AIF will eventually sell to meet time commitments made to their investors. Other investors will come and go over time. It’s part of our business model.”

Underwood said the company has “grown rapidly” through the improvement of its properties and a “methodical acquisition” strategy. The company has acquired marinas and boatyards around the country, including the November acquisition of Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island.

“This growth is expected to continue in a disciplined, rhythmic manner long into the future,” Underwood said. “Every year of our existence, we’ve accepted new equity and debt. When AIF will sell their position and at what valuation, I cannot be sure. But it’s anticipated by our business model, and a requirement of our rapid growth, that we will always be bringing in and trading out capital.”

Referring to another company that recently acquired a marina group, Underwood said that any successful marina business requires at least two components: “the right type of assets and an unassailable operational platform.”

Safe Harbor Marinas has both, according to Underwood. “The assets are stout and the growth opportunities abundant,” he said. “If we maintain the right type of capital partners, the growth ahead will eclipse the growth we’ve experienced.”

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