Lionheart Capital to Acquire Sunseeker From Wanda Group

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Sunseeker 88 Yacht

Wanda Group, the majority owner of Sunseeker International since 2013, has agreed to sell the Poole-based yacht builder to Miami-based investment firm Lionheart Capital, according to Bloomberg. The news agency stated that “according to people with knowledge of the matter”, Wanda Group and Lionheart had signed a sale-and-purchase agreement. The transaction could close as early as May 2024, depending on British regulatory approval.

Sunseeker has declined to comment on the situation. Last year, Sunseeker CEO Andrea Frabetti announced that the yacht builder had a retail forward order value of GDP 625 million, signalling a continued recovery following a downturn in 2020 due to the pandemic.

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Sunseeker Ocean 182

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Led by founder and CEO Ophir Sternberg, Lionheart is a diversified investment firm focused on “value growth investments”. Lionheart has a wide-ranging portfolio including ventures into private and publicly traded companies, retail and commerce, residential and hospitality, having backed companies including restaurant chain BurgerFi International, reimbursement specialist MSP Recovery and technology company SMX (Security Matters). In 2021, the firm was part of a group that bought US powerboat maker Cigarette Racing, which recently launched its Middle East operation.

Sunseeker yachts in Southampton, England. Image courtesy of Matt Cardy/Getty Images

In 2013, Wanda Group, China’s largest shopping centre operator, reportedly acquired nearly 92 percent of Sunseeker for GDP 320 million. According to Bloomberg “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’.” However, the conglomerate has increasingly come under pressure after borrowing costs surged and Beijing continues to crack down on the property sector, Bloomberg reported.

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Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin Credit: Mark Schiefelbein via AP Photos

In early December 2023, Wanda Group was divesting core businesses, including its commercial facility management and movie divisions, to avoid bankruptcy. In January of this year, the Group was selling assets such as the 193-room Shanghai Wanda Reign luxury hotel, situated in Shanghai’s famed Bund district for an undisclosed sum. According to reports, sources indicate that the transaction was valued between an estimated 1.44 billion and 1.66 billion yuan (USD 204 million and USD 234 million). As The Wire China reports, the “reign” of China’s former richest man Dalian Wanda could be coming to an end as Wanda Group enters a “selling spree” in a bit to overcome debt and a low cash flow.

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A Sunseeker Predator 108 yacht, featured in the James Bond film Casino Royale, capable of sailing at up to 50 miles per hour. (Photo courtesy of Handout & SCMP)

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Led by CEO Andrea Frabetti, Sunseeker was founded in 1969 in Poole on England’s south coast by brothers John and Robert Braithwaite. Sunseeker yachts were prominently featured vessels in the James Bond films Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Die Another Day.

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