Giorgio Armani Backs Italian Yacht Builder's IPO

Courtesy Armani Group

Published Jun 7, 2021 3:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, the Italian Stock Exchange (Borsa Italiana) will launch an initial public offering for a well-known yacht builder, the Italian Sea Group. A yacht shipyard IPO is exceedingly rare, and it is the latest sign of a red-hot market in the sector. 

In the run-up to the listing, the company secured backing from Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Marc Coucke as anchor investors. In total, Armani Group and Coucke's holding company will buy a combined share of 15 percent of the offering (though they will be backing the IPO separately). The stock is set to debut at a target of €4.90 per share. 

Armani’s interest in the project goes beyond financial support: he will also be designing a new 72-meter motor yacht for Italian Sea Group's Admiral brand (image above).

“Armani is synonymous with timeless elegance and sophistication and its stylistic vision will also increase our stylistic sensitivity,” said Giovanni Costantino, the founder and CEO of the Italian Sea Group. “The new motor yacht, which combines technology and excellence in design with the distinctive features of Armani and its deep identity, will give us great satisfaction.” 

The €47 million in proceeds will be used to acquire new shipyard facilities and refit yards, according to Boat International. The remaining amount will go towards continuing partnerships with luxury Italian brands, as well as the construction of yachts up to 100 meters long (a specialty of the group's Admiral brand). 

Through his investment company GC Holding, Constantino will also be selling a portion of his existing shares. He will remain the company's majority shareholder after the listing. 

The rare yacht-builder IPO occurs against the backdrop of a thriving superyacht market. According to Forbes, buyer interest is exceptionally high, and the industry's sales numbers for the first quarter of 2021 appear to be the best they've been in four years. First-time buyers, the decline of COVID-19, and people eagerly looking for a form of safe and comfortable travel are all propelling the boom. In March alone, brokerage sales rose 150 percent, according to numbers from Grand View Research. 

“With the pandemic, yachts are the safest bubble for vacation and travel. Whether chartering or owning, people realized they can control their environment with the yacht and crew while traveling in total comfort,” said Mark Elliot, International Yacht Company (IYC) sales and charter consultant to Forbes.