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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Gulf Craft plans IPO by end of 2017

Erwin Bamps, the chief executive, said the company is looking at a partial IPO to fund new vessels, which will need in excess of Dh100m.
The Gulf Craft factory in Umm Al Quwain. Sarah Dea / The National
The Gulf Craft factory in Umm Al Quwain. Sarah Dea / The National

Gulf Craft, the UAE’s biggest yacht manufacturer, is looking to float on the Dubai Financial Market before the end of the year.

The likelihood of an initial public offering is being evaluated currently, the chief executive Erwin Bamps said at the Dubai Boat Show today.

The boat builder’s stable of nautical craft ranges from a 27-foot cruiser to a 155ft mega yacht launched in 2015.

The privately owned company is headquartered in Ajman with four boatyards spread across the UAE.

The region’s biggest boat builer last year had said that it plans to add two more yards, taking its total to six across the country.

The company is celebrating its 35th year with plans to build a 175ft mega-yacht within two years and a 200ft vessel in four years.

Talks of an IPO from the company have been doing the rounds since 2006. Mr Bamps, when he was the chief operating officer in 2013, had said that an IPO was possible in the next two years.

The plans for the 200ft vessel has rekindled the desire for a public offering because of the need for a different manufacturing infrastructure and investment.

“Building yachts in excess of 200ft is a totally different manufacturing process,” said Mr Bamps.

He said that these yachts are made from steel and aluminium, not glass fibre, which requires a new skill and a new team.

“It is not just the new materials and the new skill set, it is the infrastructure of the company that will change. We will need dry docks built and sheds big enough to hold and build the structures.

“We will need in excess of Dh100 million to add the new facilities and that is why we are looking at a partial IPO,” he said.

Gulf Craft’s sales are traditionally split 70/30 between regional and international markets.

However, its sales have becalmed over the past year as investment in sea craft stalled amid low oil prices and global uncertainty.

The recent marine infrastructure investment with the Dubai Canal and the announcement of the Dubai Harbour with 1,400 berths has given the company belief that sales revenues will increase 15 per cent this year.

ascott@thenational.ae

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