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Suntex announces acquisition of Westrec Marinas

More movement in the marina sector, but is the capacity crisis still unavoidable? …

Suntex Marina Investores LLC announces the acquisition of Westrec Marinas, in a transaction rumoured to be valued at 400 million USD, according to the Wall St Journal. The combined position is now valued at $2.5 Billion, forming the 2nd largest marina group in the USA, behind Safe Harbour

Suntex’s holding includes some of the more familiar superyacht marinas like FLIB's host marina Bahia Mar and Las Olas in Ft Lauderdale as well as Miami Beach Marina. While the majority of Westrec’s marinas cater to the smaller pleasure boat market, the merger shows further evidence that the marina market is consolidating. Along with Suntex, the two Dallas based marina groups and their respective holding groups and trusts now represent over 160 Marinas in the United States. 

This acquisition comes after a busy 24 months of business in the marina sector. This growth tracks with the soaring number of boat sales in the United States, with pandemic ear sales hitting record highs. The Superyacht sector specifically has seen significant movement and consolidation also, and while Suntex acquisition of Westrec is eye-catching, the real growth in the superyacht sector in the USA remains with the continued expansion of Safe Harbor

Since the $2.11 Billion acquisition by Sun Communities Real Estate Investment trust in 2020, Safe Harbour has gone on to acquire the iconic Flridain superyacht hubs  Rybovich and Lauderdale Marine Centre. With Safe Harbour CEO Baxter Underwood commenting to SuperyachtNews at the time “Our plan is to serve Rybovich with excellence so they, in turn, can do what they do so well at more locations throughout the country and perhaps the world, “We are humbled and honoured to be on their team.”

The continued interest and investment in marinas suggests that the world of private equity considers the business of marinas to be ripe for development, with ample scope for financial growth. The trend has not been limited to the USA and comes after several significant transactions on the other side of the Atlantic. CVC Capital Partners completed the acquisition of D-Marin’s marina businesses in Greece, Croatia and the UAE from Dogus Group in early 2021. Subsequently, D-Marin proceeded to expand its holdings in the region, with new marinas in Croatia and Dubai. 

IGY Marinas likewise has been busy, with the network entering the Mediterranean fray. With Simon Bryan, the European regional director at IGY commenting after the announcement of the superyacht marina development at IGY Malaga, in May 2021: “It's super-competitive in the Mediterranean. There are so many facilities on this side of The Pond. So you have to work hard and be dynamic. Complementing the IGY Marinas in Sete & Porto Cervo, Bryan emphasised at the time that Malaga will become a part of the IGY network across the western Mediterranean stressing that they are only just getting started.

Marinas, especially marinas in superyacht hubs, are a finite resource. One of the breakaway sessions at The Superyacht Forum Live 2021 grappled with what was defined as an impending crisis of capacity. New build order books are stretching into the latter half of the decade. There is also a near-uniform desire from new entrants to visit the same destination. Coupled with the prohibitive costs and bureaucracy associated with the building marinas in these locations, the demand calculation is fairly easy to quantify. By comparison with the superyacht new-build market, marina developments move at a snail's pace, especially where current long-term agreements are in place or where government concessions are required. While there are many noteworthy marina projects underway globally, the superyacht fleet is growing far faster than its marina infrastructure.

I am sure that the strategists in the upper echelons of private equity have made these equations also, and that this will likely not be the first time we hear the euphemistic expression 'acquisition' applied to the marina sector in 2022. With investment and oversight, hopefully, the sector can continue to expand and avoid the hypothesised crisis. 

 Photo credit: FLIBS

 

 

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