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Irish investors come aboard Bond boat maker Sunseeker

02-Jun-2010 • Bond News

Sunseeker International, the maker of luxury motor yachts, has been taken over through a restructuring of its debts by FL Partners, an Irish investor consortium, after it slumped to a loss last year. The luxury yacht industry has suffered a fall in orders for its multi-million pound vessels during the economic downturn, forcing several big-name yacht-makers to change hands - reports the FT.

Sunseeker motor yachts, the bulk of which are exported, have featured in recent James Bond films The World Is Not Enough, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore and ex-Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan are among its customers.

Dublin-based FL Partners, which also owns the Racing Post newspaper, yesterday said it had invested £25m with a number of UK and Irish investors to acquire "a significant majority stake" in Sunseeker.

The new investors in the Dorset-based company, which employs 2,300 people, include Brian Souter, chief executive of Stagecoach, and Mike Clare, the founder and former boss of Dreams, the bed-maker.

FL Partners said it had refinanced Sunseeker's debt with a £40m package of long-term loans from Macquarie Bank of Australia and Haymarket Financial, a lender set up by private equity house Towerbrook.

Sunseeker breached the terms of its loans from Bank of Scotland after sliding to a pre-tax loss of £9.1m in the year to July 2009, compared with a profit of £17.8m the previous year.

The holding of founder Robert Braithwaite has been diluted by the deal, but he remains company president. Stewart McIntyre has been promoted from chief operating officer to managing director.

FL Partners was established in 2006 as an investment vehicle led by Peter Crowley and Neill Hughes, former executives of IBI Corporate Finance, the Bank of Ireland's investment banking division.

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