Advent International buys majority stake in ship management group. For Advent, the V.Group acquisition is understood to be their first marine-industry involvement. By David Robinson

Boadicea Fraser Yachts

Boadicea is currently for sale with Fraser Yachts

A deal between two private equity businesses has seen a majority stake in V.Group, the world’s largest ship management group, change hands. The majority stake, which is understood to be 51%, has been acquired by Advent International from OPV (Omers Private Equity). The value of the transaction was undisclosed.

Through its V Ships Leisure UK division, V.Group is the largest supplier of management and outsourcing services to the maritime and leisure yacht industry. More than 200 shore-based and 7,000 seagoing staff provide services to more than 140 superyachts, cruise vessels and ferries. These services are in many cases customised to meet the specific needs of clients, including the ability to provide integrated deck and engine and hotel management as part of the same service offering.

In total, V.Group companies manage 1,000 ships across the leisure, commercial marine, offshore and defence areas. It employs 3,000 staff and supports over 47,000 personnel in the marine and offshore sectors. It operates from 70 offices worldwide.

V.Group also holds a 17% stake in Fraser Yachts, which is the superyacht brokerage, charter and management services arm of the Azimut-Benetti Group. Roberto Giorgi, Fraser’s executive chairman, is honorary president of V Ships.

It is not known how many of the 140 leisure vessels managed by V Ships Leisure are superyachts. V Ships Leisure operates from offices in Monaco, Miami, Piraeus and Southampton.

Clive Richardson, CEO of V.Group, says: “We have enjoyed great support and solid growth under OPE’s ownership, and our company has continued to strengthen its position in the market through our recent acquisitions of Bibby Ship Management and Selandia Holdings. V.Group has a unique offering in marine services, and as ship owners and operators increasingly consider strategic options for the management of their fleets, we are committed to delivering performance excellence alongside lower costs. We look forward to working with Advent to make this possible.”

James Brocklebank, a managing partner at Advent International, says: “V.Group has a proven track record of delivering value for its customers alongside consistent growth, and we believe that Advent is well-placed to help the business build on this success. Advent’s global presence, sector specialisation and focus on business transformation make us an ideal partner for V.Group in the next phase, and we look forward to supporting its continued expansion and development.”

For Advent International, the V.Group acquisition is understood to be their first marine-industry involvement. Formed in 1984 it is one of the largest and most experienced global private equity investors. The firm has invested in more than 315 private equity transactions in 40 countries and as of June 30, 2016, had €3bn in assets under management.

As for OPV, it is the direct investment arm of OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) and it has about $10bn invested. It started operations in London in 2009 and bought the V Group stake in 2011 from Exponent Private Equity for an enterprise value of $520m. OMERS in total has about $80bn of assets under management.