June 8, 2009 / 7:21 PM / in 9 years

Fashion Yachts says financing sales hard

LONDON (Reuters) - The global financial crisis has not cut demand for luxury yachts but financing sales has become more difficult, the founder and chief executive of Italy’s Fashion Yachts said on Monday.

“The bigger problem now is not finding the client, it’s finding the leasing for the client,” Fabrizio Politi told the Reuters Luxury Summit in London.

Politi, whose company makes vessels with gold leaf and crocodile skin fitted in the interiors, said he had signed contracts for the sale of eight yachts in the first quarter of the year -- which compares to 10-11 contracts a year usually.

“I sold eight yachts (in the first quarter), but we have just found the leasing for only three contracts, there are five clients that are searching for leasing ... It’s not easy.”

Politi said he had also seen reduced offers. “Some clients (have made) smaller offers, the price is a little less than before,” he said.

Based in the dockyard area of Pisa, Tuscany, the maker of luxury vessels makes yachts going up to 85 meters (279 feet). Some can take 2-3 years to build.

“Before you could buy a boat with equity at 5 percent, sometime 0 percent ... Now the leasing is 30 percent or 40 percent,” Politi said. “For a toy it is not easy.”

Fashion Yachts, which claims it ranks among the top Italian shipyards in terms of growth, turnover and size, saw turnover double last year to 50 million euros, and has said it should have turnover of about 100 million euros in 2009.

Politi has said Fashion Yachts planned to list on the stock market in 2011. At the moment it is looking to create a holding company and is talking with private equity companies in Italy.

The private equity stake would be for 20 percent, while a stock market listing would be for 40 percent.

“If there are the conditions, it will be in three years, if we must wait it’ll be four,” Politi said. “I want to keep 60 percent in my hands.”

Politi, who calls himself “the designer of the sea,” said the most popular yacht was the Fashion 88 Diamond, with crystal and aluminum details and an asking price of 6.2 million euros ($8.6 million).

He said the 27-meter (89 foot) model was the smallest he was making.

“Under this size there is a big risk, there are a lot of competitors and less buyers,” he said.

On Fashion 88, Politi said he had 320,000 euros worth of glass on its top. “A lot of people think I‘m crazy but I think I must give to the market something new, a new era,” he said.

“A yacht is a toy, the most expensive toy in the world.”

blogs.reuters.com/shop-talk/ for Shop Talk -- Reuters retail and consumer blog

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