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Irish eyes turn towards Russian superyachts


Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich

IRISH superyacht owners such as Eddie Jordan and Michael Smurfit may be watching the upcoming Monaco yacht show with more interest than usual.

Both men have bought and sold luxury yachts for huge profits in recent years. But the million dollar question at this year's yacht show is: Are the Russians coming?

Economic sanctions in the past months by the US and Europe in response to Russian incursions into Ukraine have left the superyacht industry bracing for fewer orders as dozens of Russian political and business leaders have been blacklisted.

Russian billionaires have been a driving force in the market for the world's biggest yachts in recent years as evidenced by the 162.5-meter-long Eclipse owned by oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Industry representatives gathering this week in Monaco for the annual yachting trade fair are wondering if geopolitical pressures are putting the party on pause.

"Clearly there have been projects in the industry that haven't materialised because of the situation," said Peter Lurssen, managing partner of a family-owned shipyard in Germany that specializes in building the longest luxury motor boats.

However, Mark Cavendish the sales and marketing director of Heesen Yachts, said: "We are still in conversation with a number of Russian clients, For the past five years not just us but all the yachting industry has been heavily reliant on Russian clients,"

The proportion of yachts measuring more than 40 meters owned by Russians has more than doubled over the past five years to about 8pc of the global fleet, representing the fastest-growing segment of the market. It puts the Russians just behind the 9pc of the fleet in Middle Eastern hands.

Ukraine this week urged pro-Russian separatists to stop shelling government troops, while President Barack Obama said Russia must choose peace to have US sanctions lifted.

Speaking earlier in the week, CEO of yacht brokerage Burgess Jonathan Beckett acknowledged "a few disappointments in the market."

"The political situation is having an effect," he admitted.

Irish superyacht owners include Mark Getty, of the famous oil and high finance Getty family, and Monanco based packaging tycoon Michael Smurfit.

Eddie Jordan, the former F1 team owner and self-confessed 'spender', also made a big splash earlier in the year after buying a €38m, custom-made, 155-foot, 200-tonne Sunseeker superyacht - which came complete with its own nightclub and hot tub.

Sunday Indo Business