16 Oct 2014
Privilege Yard back in business as construction of 127m resumes
By Lulu Trask
Privilege Yard of Southern Italy, in the media earlier this year due to protests by employees complaining about unpaid wages, has approached SuperyachtNews.com to clarify the shipyard’s financial situation.
In April 2014, it was reported that the Civitavecchia-based yard, owned by Mario La Via under a long lease from the Italian Government, was undergoing financial difficulties to the point where workers were allegedly left unpaid, with the future of the yard’s elusive in-build 127m motoryacht being questioned.
Since joining the shipyard in June 2014, Benjamin Meggs has been working to resolve the yard’s financial problems and set the record straight. Meggs has confirmed that the elusive 127m superyacht, project P430, is very much in build, and is expected to launch late 2014 or early 2015.
When the build started back in 2008, it was funded by both the client and a pool of five Italian banks. But when one of the banks ran into problems in December 2012, due to an agreement that the banks’ funding was reliant upon all five parties’ involvement, the funding stopped. The yard’s owner then self-funded the project for some time, until in March 2014 when he informed the yard’s 44 employees and additional subcontractors that the project would have to be put on hold until additional funding could be found.
It was at this point that speculation as to the yard’s future and treatment of its employees began to grow in the media. “Most of the subcontractors are people Mario has long-term friendships and relationships with and they all say, ‘Hey, we understand; this happens, it’s not a problem’, but there was a small group of two or three subcontractors who, even though Mario had employed them for four or five years, became very upset that the money had stopped. They caused a lot of noise and cause the political issues,” Meggs told SuperyachtNews.com.
The protests reported in the media, Meggs added, were mostly comprised of members with no affiliation to the yard. “The people protesting were bussed in from Southern Italy; they weren’t even subcontractors of the yard. It was a political thing. But there was a lot of media coverage because of this.”
While the problems surrounding the employees of Privilege Yard may have been blown out of proportion, there was no doubt that the yard was struggling with its finances. Any previous financial difficulties, Meggs assured, have now been solved. “The money issue has finally been resolved. The Italian banks are going to [begin] funding in the next two to three weeks. Right now the [127m] project is 82 per cent complete financially.”
Eighty-two per cent complete financially and 60 per cent complete physically, the 127m, which began construction in 2008, is for sale, with its client hoping to roll the money from the sale into a 150m from the same yard now that Privilege Yard has expanded its capabilities. “When we built the yard we could only build to 130m. We’ve had a road annexed to us now and we can build to 210m. So in the last amendment to the contract the client said, ‘If you find a buyer then you can roll my money into a 150m.'” The superyacht took some time to get from the design stage to the build stage, subject to 146 general arrangements (GAs), but Meggs has confirmed the client has been told to make no more amendments to the yacht, which is for sale as is or with minor interior modifications.
Resuming construction of the 127m is not the only news for the yard; it has laid the keel for a 150m superyacht. “The client is paying monthly and once we launch the 127m, he’ll give us half of the money we need for his 150m,” confirmed Meggs.
It looks like Privilege Yard is back in business, and the message from the yard: “We’ve been working very hard over the last two years to resolve the financial issues from the banks, and we’re happy to report that they are resolved and very soon everything will be back on track."
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