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Princess Yachts sold to US investor

Britain’s largest luxury yacht builder has been bought by a US-based private equity firm  …

Plymouth-based Princess Yachts, the UK's largest luxury boatbuilder, has been sold to KPS Capital Partners, a US-based private equity firm. L Catterton, the previous private equity owner, put Princess up for sale in 2022 and reportedly hired bankers at Macquarie to find a buyer. In February 2023, Princess confirmed that KPS had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a controlling equity interest in the business.

KPS is a New York-based private equity giant with approximately $14.4 billion of capital under management, as of September 2022. It makes controlling equity investments in manufacturing companies in North America and Europe. In 2019, KPS acquired the fitness equipment business of Brunswick Corporation, including the Life Fitness brand, for $490 million in cash.

Existing shareholders will retain ownership in Princess, with the transaction expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. Princess had previously announced expansion plans in the South West region of the UK, as part of the successful bid by Plymouth city council to create a freeport. The company believes that the new investment from KPS will help support these plans and reinforce the unique national and international marine capabilities that reside in Plymouth and the wider region.

The Princess business was founded in 1965 and distributes through a 50-strong global network. It had been backed by L Catterton and its predecessor entity since 2008. KPS's investment in Princess will accelerate the company's growth trajectory and fund numerous investments for its future. Ryan Harrison, a partner of KPS Mid-Cap Investments, says, "We are excited to make this significant investment in Princess Yachts, a leading company in the luxury global yachting industry with an iconic brand grounded in the British tradition, a remarkable and growing product range, and world-wide reputation for quality and innovation."

Antony Sheriff, Princess Yachts' chief executive, adds, "We are thrilled to partner with KPS for this exciting new chapter for Princess Yachts. KPS and the Princess Yachts team are deeply committed to investing in the company's future while continuing to further strengthen our portfolio of best-in-class motor yachts. With a current order book nearing a record $1 billion and many model lines sold into 2025, we have never been in a stronger commercial position."

The partnership with KPS gives Princess Yachts access to KPS's manufacturing expertise and its experience investing in leading brands. This is expected to help Princess accelerate a range of growth and operational initiatives to build upon its long and successful history. KPS's investment in Princess Yachts is a testament to the company's strength, quality, and innovation in the luxury yacht industry. It also reflects the growing confidence in the superyacht market, as seen by the increasing number of investments in this sector.

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