Mega Yachts and Warships

Lürssen Buys Historic Shipyard Blohm + Voss

Blohm + Voss source Daniel Bockwoldt dpa
Blohm + Voss loom large in the international shipyard business.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The takeover would give ship builders Lürssen a boost, propelling them to a global role in naval vessels to match their leading role in the exclusive yacht business.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • German family-owned luxury yacht builder Lürssen said on Wednesday it was buying rival Blohm + Voss from British private equity firm Star Capital Partners.
    • Blohm + Voss was founded in 1877 and its shipyard is in the heart of port city Hamburg.
    • Star Capital originally demanded around €60 million, sources say. After tough negotiations, the purchase price is said to be in the mid double-digit millions.
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The Bremen entrepreneurs Peter and Friedrich Lürssen have long kept quiet about their business of selling luxury mega-yachts to the world’s super rich.

With their most recent deal, however, the two cousins who head the Lürssen shipyard will no longer be able to avoid the limelight. The family company is taking over the Blohm + Voss shipyard, whose floating dock on the Elbe River is one of Hamburg’s landmarks.

British private equity firm Star Capital Partners originally demanded around €60 million, sources say. After tough negotiations, the purchase price is said to be in the mid double-digit millions.

The purchase – if approved by the Federal Antitrust Agency – will fulfill a dream long cherished by the Lürssens, whose shipyard makes warships as well as top-end yachts.

They tried several times to buy the rival firm, which was founded in 1877 and employs some 980 people. Recent major projects included refits of the cruiseliner Queen Mary 2, the flagship of the Cunard Line. Blohm + Voss also built the famous German WWII warship Bismarck.

Years ago, former owner Thyssenkrupp refused to turn its subsidiary over to the Bremen businessmen, then Star Capital acquired it from the industrial group at the end of 2011.

The cousins are now taking the plunge because of a large order by the federal government. As many as six combat vessels worth at least €3.15 billion are needed for the German Navy. This, the largest contract since the Second World War, will be awarded within the next 12 months.

“The Lürssens have proven they have a knack for shipbuilding.”

Harald Pötter, Shipyard labor council

Now Lürssen has submitted a bid together with Thyssenkrupp. Two other competitors are also in the running. Buying the construction dock in Hamburg plugs a gap for Lürssen, because its own facilities are too small for the the new combat ships. “A smart move,” says a rival.

Friedrich Lürssen deserves this praise. The 67-year-old is responsible for the naval business at the family firm. His 56-year-old cousin Peter focuses on selling and building mega-yachts. These include the Azzam which, at 180 meters, is the longest private yacht in the world. The two cousins are the fourth generation to head the firm and a gradual handover to the next generation is in the works.

Friedrich and Peter Lürssen have guided the more than 140-years-old company to new heights. Over the years, its presence along German coastlines was expanded through acquisitions.

With Blohm + Voss, Lürssen can operate six shipyard locations with a total of 2,800 employees. The labor force is full of praise: “The Lürssens have proven they have a knack for shipbuilding,” said the head of the shipyard’s labor council, Harald Pötter, to Handelsblatt. “We have complete confidence in management.”

Lürssen said the acquisition was aimed at strengthening its repair and refit operations for yachts, naval vessels and commercial ships as well as rounding off its activities in naval shipbuilding.

The purchase has yet to be approved by the cartel authorities.

In their urge to expand, the Lürssens act with Hanseatic restraint. Industry sources say they don’t spend an excessive amount of money in making acquisitions, preferring to wait for the right moment.

That was also the case with their purchase of Blohm+Voss. Star Capital is said to have originally demanded around €60 million, sources say. After tough negotiations, the purchase price is said to be in the mid double-digit millions.

That would be a sound investment because if Lürssen and Thyssen-Krupp get the combat ships contract, the cousins would achieve a global role with naval vessels, on a par with their yachting business.

 

Martin Murphy specializes in the automotive, defense and steel industries. Martin Wocher is an editor with Handelsblatt, focusing on the mechanical engineering and steel industries. To contact the authors: wocher@handelsblatt.com, murphy@handelsblatt.com

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