As Forbes found out, the oil magnate owns a Dutch manufacturer of high-speed ocean yachts
As Forbes was learned, the president and main shareholder of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov # 10 is the owner of a well-known manufacturer of high-speed ocean yacht – a company Heesen Yachts, which was founded in 1978 in the harbor city of Oss in the Netherlands. Forbes was told about it by an acquaintance of Lukoil’s shareholders and confirmed by a source on the yachting market.
According to Heesen Yachts, the company is part of the Morcell group. This Cypriot company belongs to Vela fund registered in the British Virgin Islands (beneficiaries are not disclosed). Before the company was owned by Vela fund, it was owned by Stenham Trustees, the beneficiaries of which were Vagit Alekperov and his Lukoil partner Leonid Fedun #23.
The directors of Morcell are still people close to Lukoil shareholders. All three – Irina Gizikova (former Lukoil employee), Natalia Sorokina and Simon Graham – worked for Lancaster Trustees, which serviced the family office of the oil company shareholders and participated in the deal with the billion dollar Hadar fund. The chief financial officer of Morcell is Anna Shulyakovsky. According to her LinkedIn profile, she had previously worked for more than seven years as chief economist at Lukoil-Kaliningradmorneft. Heesen Yachts confirmed that the owner of the company is Vela fund, but they did not name the beneficiaries. Lukoil declined to comment.
Andrei Boiko, owner of the Burevestnik Group holding company, says that the Heesen Yachts brand is very well promoted and known in the market; the company is among the top five in the world. “The peculiarity of the yard is that their yachts are made of aluminum. It is strong and yet light, this allows very fast ocean-going yachts to be built,” says Nikita Gorchakov, founder of the yachting portal itBoat.com. Additional characteristics of Heesen Yachts’ projects are that the company does not build yachts of less than 30 m, and customers can choose individual design of both the yacht itself and its interior.
The manufacturer grants any whims of the buyer – fountains inside the vessels, gold plumbing or upholstery of rare animal skins.
Among the clients of Heesen Yachts are the Sultan of Brunei, the Sheikhs of Kuwait, the Indian magnates, but mostly Russian billionaires. One of the yachts, a 50-meter Galactica, was owned by Alekperov himself; other Russian customers include Suleiman Kerimov #28, who owns the 36.8-meter yacht Millenium, and Kirill Pisarev, the founder of the PIK construction group, who ordered a 47-meter yacht 4YOU (he later sold it to Alexander Milyavsky, a member of the Moscow City Duma), and former senator and shareholder of the alcohol company Synergy Valentin Zavadnikov, who bought a 55-meter yacht Quinta Essentia.
Heesen Yachts marketing and sales director Mark Cavendish told the South China Morning Post that all ten yachts built in 2013 were sold to clients from Russia, and nine of the 12 in 2014 were also bought by wealthy Russians. Alexander Boyko explains that Russian businessmen like to buy large yachts. He thinks that this business is quite delicate, because the clients demand to keep the owner’s anonymity. At the same time he is sure that for the businessmen the building of the yachts is not just a game.
Heesen Yachts’ financial results confirm this. The company is profitable, earning €5.2 million in 2013. Heesen Yachts founder Franz Heesen sold his business back in 2008. According to the Dutch newspaper De Verdieping Trow, the value of the yard was then €100 million.
Morcell controls other assets, among them Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), the owner of huge crane ships with a lifting capacity of up to 5,000 tons. The company has two such ships, the Stanislav Yudin and the Oleg Strashnov. The cost of building the latter cost over $180 million. SHL is also connected with Alekperov – SHL Contracting UK employed Pavel Sukhoruchkin, one of the oil tycoon’s family office employees who managed the Hadar Fund’s assets. Last year, Morcell earned €125 million on the sale of a controlling stake in the OEG Offshore Group to the U.S. investment company KKR ($100 billion under management).
This is not the first time Alekperov is interested in marine assets. According to the Spanish media, in 2010 the employees of the billionaire’s office (in particular, Sukhoruchkin) financed 75% of investments into the seaport in the capital of Catalonia – Marina Port Vell (Spain). These funds passed through the investment group Salamanca (assets of € 5.4 billion). The latter told Forbes that it has already invested in the reconstruction of the port more than € 60 million, but did not comment on the participation of Alekperov in Salamanca. Investments are needed to build the largest marina in Europe, which would allow mooring vessels up to 120 m long.