- Business - Silent Yachts saved from administration

By Conor Feasey

Silent Yachts saved from administration

With the electric catamaran builder now under new ownership and management team, CEO Fabrizio Iarrera discusses the shipyard’s growth strategy  …

Michael Said, an American-German investor has acquired Fano-based shipyard Silent Yachts, drawing the company from the brink of insolvency. The new majority owner, who is also a client of the yard, with a Silent 62 3-Deck currently in build, has appointed Fabrizio Iarrera as CEO, with company founder and former CEO Michael Koehler keeping a 10 per cent stake in the firm and set to take on the role of brand ambassador.

“Michael Koehler has 20 years of experience in developing solar-electric yacht technology and the management team is pleased to have his experience available to them,” Iarrera tells SuperyachtNews. “Now, the growth strategy is to streamline manufacturing and organisational processes in our Fano shipyard to make us more efficient and allow us to increase production as our demand increases.”

The Austrian builder had fallen into financial difficulty recently and underwent a restructuring process due to the discontinuation of a crucial subcontractor that had played a major role in the production of the yard's solar catamarans. Subsequent reports from the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung also indicated that the parent company of Silent Yachts, Asap Trading, was facing insolvency issues, with a total debt of around €46 million.

Now, however, with a new management team in place and access to fresh funding, there is a robust and solid growth strategy in place that covers the next five years. Italian yachting sector veteran Iarrera says that the firm has already restructured the business and helped to set it on a strong footing for the future.

“Silent Yachts is known and recognised throughout the yachting world for developing the technology to make electric catamarans a reality,” he says. “There are costs associated with creating an entirely new market, and the original business fell prey to these, at a time when price inflation everywhere was spiralling out of control. We have a medium-term strategy to fully develop Silent Yachts range with new models available over our five-year business plan and offer a greater range for our customers.”

Through his acquisition vehicle, Helios Yacht Investments, Said has taken control of all the assets formerly belonging to Silent Yachts, including the intellectual property of the yachts’ design and the shipyard Silent Italia in Fano. A dual German and American national who practised law in the US, Said has a property portfolio worldwide and was looking for future business investments. Being a customer of Silent Yachts, Iarrera says the decision to invest was easy, as Said has always been a believer in the company.

The new owner ensured that funding didn't dry up last year, saving 140 jobs when the business fell into administration. By keeping the Italian yacht building operation in Fano running, Said allowed Silent Yachts to continue working on its existing orders for the Silent 62. The first of these yachts has just been launched, with a further seven due later this year. Silent Yachts will also launch its first 80s model in 2025, with another one due before the end of the same year.

Under the new regime, Iarrera will oversee day-to-day operations, supported by Michael Said and a board of shareholders. Steve Bell has also accepted the role of vice chairman of the board. Together, they will supervise the new business and provide guidance to the management team to facilitate growth. Bell brings extensive experience as a seasoned manager in manufacturing enterprises spanning Britain and Germany.

Having overcome financial difficulty, Iarrera explains that the yard is currently restricted by transport limitations at the current yard due to the beam of the yachts, meaning that only the 62 can be built in the yard. “However, we are developing an additional facility in the port at Fano that could allow for two 80s to be built each year,” he says.

For the new CEO, however, the top priority for Silent Yachts now is to finish the yachts under construction and to deliver them. The yard currently has back orders for 17 yachts and is working to deliver these during 2024 and 2025, with three slots still available for delivery in late 2025.

“We know we have a job to do to rebuild the brand's reputation, but we've been thrilled by the positive reception we've had from those who have already put in orders,” Iarrea adds. “At our yard in Fano, we are fully focused on streamlining our operations. The team that we have built is committed to showing the world that we are delivering yachts and that our excellent R&D team can stay ahead of our competitors. We are certain that there is a bright future for Silent Yachts.”

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