In August 2013, Wanda Group acquired 91.81 per cent of shares in Sunseeker International. Wanda Group, owned by billionaire Wang Jianlin, who was named China’s richest person by Forbes Magazine in 2013, is a Beijing-headquartered company with strong footprints across China, Europe and the US, operating mainly in four sectors, including commercial properties, culture and entertainment, luxury hotels and department stores.
To ensure the continuation of a strong management structure, Wanda Group has stated its commitment to the management and operations of Sunseeker Group and has formed a special Board Committee with responsibility for the selection and appointment of a new CEO. Sunseeker has also revealed advanced plans to appoint two independent, non-executive directors to strengthen Sunseeker’s operating model and to bring further strategic expertise to the Sunseeker Board.
In the interim, Wanda Group has endorsed the appointment of Robert Braithwaite CBE as acting president of Sunseeker. Braithwaite, founder of Sunseeker, will now work alongside Sunseeker's executive team and Wanda Group's post-merger integration team, who will manage the business pending the appointment of a new CEO.
SuperyachtNews.com contacted Sunseeker to ask if a potential replacement had already been identified, to which the response was negative. “Wanda Group, together with the executive team at Sunseeker, are working on the recruitment of a CEO, although no appointment has been made as yet and this process will continue through the Autumn and Winter periods,” clarified Gemma Marsh, Sunseeker’s marketing manager. “In the interim the experienced existing management team, together with the support of the majority shareholder Wanda and acting president, Robert Braithwaite, will continue as normal with the running of the business.”
“Wanda is committed to Sunseeker and its workforce and as such looks forward to working with the new management on initiatives that continue to build the brand,” said Wanda Group’s chairman, Wang Jianlin, in a statement. “In the meantime, Wanda has already put a plan in place to transform Sunseeker to the next generation of success. Wanda will continue to provide both financial and management support to Sunseeker going forward.”
“Sunseeker is not just a boat manufacturer; it is a family and a global brand,” added Robert Braithwaite on behalf of the executive team. “We are proud of our heritage but as a company Sunseeker has never stood still and we will work very hard together with Wanda Group to further strengthen our leading market position. We have huge confidence that the team in Poole, as well as the wider distributor and supplier network, will pull together as a team to take Sunseeker forward to a successful future.“