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Fraser’s Asian invasion

Fraser’s CEO discusses the five new offices that will strengthen the firm’s presence in Asia…

Fraser, one of the superyacht industry’s leading full-service brokerage companies, has announced that it will be opening five new offices in Asia – in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

In doing so, Fraser has teamed up with Eric Noyel, CEO of Asia Marine, who will manage four of the new offices, while Vincent Tabuteau of Fraser will be managing the office in Thailand. “Asia Marine will focus on the sub-80ft. market independently, and we will be handling charter management, charter retail, brokerage and yacht management above 80ft. We will also be doing some port services in Thailand,” explains Raphael Sauleau, CEO of Fraser, in an exclusive conversation with SuperyachtNews.

These regions continue to get stronger and stronger for charter, Sauleau says. “In Hong Kong, there are a lot of day charters going on, which isn’t something we will be doing moving forward, but there are lots of potential clients and lots of wealth, so we want to pick up charter activity and offer a gateway to ownership.”

In September 2015, there was an update to the charter license in Thailand, allowing foreign-flagged yachts to legally enter Thai waters. It was previously illegal to charter a yacht exclusively visiting Thailand, unless the vessel operated under Thai registration.

"There are lots of ongoing discussions between organisations and the ministry of tourism about introducing greater flexibility for charter yachts."

This liberated the Asian market of one potentially significant inhibition, however issues over crew visa laws and import tax remain. “I was at the yacht show in Phuket last week,” continues Sauleau, “and there are lots of ongoing discussions between organisations and the ministry of tourism about introducing greater flexibility for charter yachts.

“There is undoubtedly still a lot of work to be done, but Thailand and Indonesia are definitely loosening their regulation.” Sauleau is also very excited about the Australian superyacht market’s future, but again, the ratification of certain policies – such as allowing foreign-flagged yachts to charter in the local waters – are also curbing this market from reaching its true potential, despite Superyacht Australia’s strong lobbying efforts.

That said, Sauleau is confident that the unlocking of these regions as “brand new playgrounds for everyone” isn’t far away, and sees South-East Asia as a prominent gateway to Australia, which is currently busy ahead of the Commonwealth Games next month (April).

“The challenge is going to be to attracting yachts that normally do the Caribbean season to Asia to try these destinations,” continues Sauleau. “We only have a few small yachts there at the moment, and with this partnership an additional two or three, but no-one can boast a big fleet out there yet.”

Sauleau says that the increase in brokerage sales is “moderate" and "around two to three per cent” per year in Asia, but he is a firm believer that patience will be a virtue, and that the market will see “third generation Chinese nationals” desiring ownership in future.

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