- Business - Sunseeker sold to US investment firm

By SuperyachtNews

Sunseeker sold to US investment firm

As it looks to mitigate against potential bankruptcy, Dalian Wanda Group has reportedly agreed to sell Sunseeker International to Lionheart Capital…

The owner of Sunseeker International has reportedly sold the British boatbuilder to a US investment firm, following a string of high-end asset sales as it battles against potential bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group and Miami-based Lionheart have signed a sale and purchase agreement. The transaction, depending upon British regulatory approval, is expected to close as early as next month.

Lionheart, under the leadership of founder and CEO Ophir Sternberg, has supported various companies, including the restaurant chain BurgerFi International, reimbursement specialist MSP Recovery and technology firm SMX (Security Matters). Notably, in 2021, the firm participated in a consortium that acquired powerboat manufacturer Cigarette Racing Team.

Sunseeker, the Poole-based boatbuilder which announced a £40 million investment in new product development last year, has been under the ownership of the Chinese conglomerate, which is the largest shopping centre operator in the country, since 2013.

Wanda Group reportedly acquired nearly 92 percent of Sunseeker for £320 million. Wanda Chairman Wang Jianling said then that the investment was driven by growth in China’s consumption of high-end luxury products that was “exponential”.

At the time, the company assured that Sunseeker would maintain its existing production bases and current workforce. Management was slated to retain the remaining 8 per cent stake in the business. However, in early December 2023, the Wanda Group was divesting core businesses, including its commercial facility management and movie divisions, to avoid bankruptcy.

Wanda was previously regarded as one of the few reputable Chinese issuers in the junk bond (a bond that is rated below investment grade by credit rating agencies) market, primarily due to its interests in commercial real estate and its asset-light property-management business. However, the conglomerate faced challenges as borrowing expenses escalated, and Beijing intensified its scrutiny of the property sector.

In January of this year, the Group were selling assets, such as the 193-room Shanghai Wanda Reign luxury hotel, situated in Shanghai’s famed Bund, for an undisclosed sum. Sources indicate that the transaction was valued between 1.44 billion and 1.66 billion yuan ($204 million and $234 million).

Despite this, Sunseeker’s CEO, Andrea Frabetti, disclosed that the company had a retail forward order value of £625 million (€730 million) in 2023, signalling a continued recovery following a downturn in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Sunseeker has declined to comment on the matter and representatives of Wanda and Lionheart did not immediately respond for comment.

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