Until a few days ago, everything seemed promising for the award-winning UK yacht builder Oyster Marine. Oyster had a record year in 2017. Their order-book stood at $70 million and they had gotten a great response to their Oyster 745 on display at the Düsseldorf 2018 boat show in January. Cruising World magazine honored the model as ‘Best Luxury Cruiser’ in its 2018 Boat of the Year Awards. Then, on Monday, an announcement was made — Oyster Marine is being liquidated. 400 jobs are expected to be lost.
What happened? The simplest answer may be that private equity gives and private equity takes away. The firm’s current owner, the Dutch private equity firm, HTP Investments, is believed to have withdrawn its financial support for the firm.
Oyster Marine, founded in 1973 by Richard Matthews, produced luxury cruising and racing sailboats. In 2008, Matthews sold the company to private equity company Balmoral Capital for about £70 million. Four years later, the firm was sold again to the Dutch investment company, HTP Investments BV, for just under £15 million. HTP also owns companies which build motorhomes and campers as well as auto parts.
Oyster recently began a major project to build several 118ft superyachts and has been in the progress fabricating new production molds for their Oyster 825 and 895 models.
While the company generally has appeared to be profitable, it may have suffered losses related to the sinking of the Polina Star III, a new Oyster 90, which sank off Spain in 2015 following a major keel failure.