January 15 2020
On 22 January next, the Court will rule and take a position on the future of Fora Marine, builder of the famous RMs, these fast ocean-going yachts with a magnificent design, which went bankrupt last December following heavy financial losses.
According to our information, two files have been filed.
The first would come from two private investors, including the commercial director of the yard.
The second would have been set up by a French shipyard specialized in niche yachts, and owner of several brands.
On the strength of these two offers, it will then be up to the Court either to accept one of the two takeover offers directly or improved, if the judges consider them insufficient, or to place the yard in compulsory liquidation.
In the latter case, the assets will be sold at the bar of the Commercial Court, which will leave the possibility for a buyer to buy back all or part of the assets (tangible and intangible) of the yard at a low price, in order to relaunch the brand, by divesting itself of all liabilities...
The takeover of the yard will not be easy, as the liabilities are estimated at nearly 3 million euros, with the amount of customer deposits received alone amounting to approximately 1.5 million euros. It is precisely the amount of these advance payments that is the problem.
Generally speaking, the yards filing for bankruptcy have fairly flat order books, and organise the very last deliveries just before or during the turnaround, in order to avoid penalising too many customers and dealers. This was recently the case for the Ocqueteau shipyard, which in fact amounts to organizing the bankruptcy filing.
In the case of Fora Marine, the shipyard filed for bankruptcy with a full order book, which is quite rare. This situation requires the buyer to 'buy back' the amount of the client's deposits at the time of the takeover, if he wants to benefit from the order book, without harming current customers.
Such an approach, although it seems logical, is not common in the yachting industry and generally, customer deposits are lost in a takeover, as are part of the orders, since case-by-case negotiations may take place, since the buyers do not wish to pay twice the deposits that have already been spent by the bankrupt company.
Given the difficulty of the situation, the industrial stake will undoubtedly be at the heart of the judges' decision.
A liquidation of the shipyard would inevitably lead to a sale of its assets by apartment, allowing investors to buy back the brand at a low price, in order to relaunch it without bothering creditors, whether future ex-customers or suppliers. This approach is frequent in the yachting industry, but generally not very successful over time, due to a chronic lack of equity capital provided by the buyers.
Indeed, significant equity capital will undoubtedly be needed to relaunch Fora Marine, where the problem to be solved is above all industrial: how to reintegrate operations that are too often outsourced (which outsource the added value) and how to succeed in industrialising the RM production process in a profitable way, while guaranteeing a constant level of quality??
Built in epoxy CP, RM yachts have suffered from construction and quality problems in recent months due to an overly artisanal construction process. This complexity has been further increased by the decision to equip the new and superb RM1180 with composite sides to solve quality problems.
In this context, the industrial capacity of the buyer will undoubtedly be a major criterion to be taken into account in order to perpetuate a brand whose yachts are turning many heads on the water and whose positioning is currently unique.