Superyacht industry discusses future in Monaco forum

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The Yacht Club de Monaco, under the “La Belle Classe Superyachts” banner, held its fifth economic symposium, where industry leaders discussed a lagging yacht market, but a thriving megayacht sector.

More than 45 professionals from across the luxury yachting supply chain attended the dinner-debate to discuss the economy of the yachting world.

Representatives of boatyards, brokers, designers, captains, bankers, maritime experts, lawyers, port directors and show organizers attended the event, which allows for open discussion.

“All agreed the yachting industry is still hampered by problems linked to the financial and economic crisis,” a yacht club statement said.

Olivier Blanchet, of BNP Paribas, told attendees that there was an average drop of 30 percent in the price of secondhand yachts between 2011 and 2012, particularly in the 24- to 35-meter market (roughly 79 to 114 feet).

Demand for funds to finance yachts remains steady, although more than two-thirds of acquisitions are still made without a request for funding, Blanchet told guests.

The crisis has, however, revealed how surprisingly healthy the megayacht sector is (yachts 80-plus meters, or 262 feet).

New builds got bigger and bigger in 2011 and 2012, Blanchet said.

“Some 25 to 30 boats of 100 meters [328 feet] are already sailing,” Blanchet said at the meeting. “A few projects for 160-plus meters are in the process of being built.”

That translates to roughly 525 feet.

Worldwide, there are estimated to be about 82,000 ultra-high net worth individuals whose fortune exceeds 50 million euros, or about $67 million. About 1,226 of those are billionaires; 480 are in the United States, and China has the second-most, at 147.

Those billionaires are younger, with 20 percent of the top 100 under the age of 50. Therefore megayacht designers should keep younger families in mind when creating new products, Blanchet said.

“Compared to those of their fathers who became owners relatively late in life, the yachts of these new owners often have to meet the needs of an extended family with children,” Blanchet said in his speech.

Camper & Nicholson COO Laurent Perignon told attendees that the current climate is not a crisis, but a return to normal.

“Obviously we are not seeing a return to the crazy years of 2003-2008, but now it is the reality of yachting in general,” he said.

“The market has changed. It is the reality of the market; we will have to resize and reformulate our companies,” said Marc Ovanessian, administrative and finance director at ITM.

The next La Belle Classe environmental symposium will take place on March 26.

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