Thursday, 30 July 2015

“C’est magnifique!” Bratton buoyed by impending Ponant buyout

#expeditioncruising

While the ink on the paperwork may already be dry, the imminent transfer of ownership is not yet formalised. But Ponant’s Chairman Asia Pacific, Sarina Bratton, already has her Veuve Cliquot on ice.
Sarina Bratton signing her agreement with the co-founder and
CEO of  Compagnie du Ponant, Jean-Emannuel Sauvee in 2013.
Sauvee will remain with his company after the handover.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” Bratton told ExpeditionCruising.com in an exclusive phone interview, “the Bridgepoint (a pan-European private equity investment group) phase has run a normal four-year course for a private equity fund and now they are moving on. Their timing is perfect for everyone.”

Artemis patriarch, François Pinault

New owners, the Pinault family-owned holding company Artemis S.A, is poised to move in any day. The billionaire French businessman, François Pinault, is listed by Forbes as 65th on their Billionaires List and owns such brands as Converse shoes, Samsonite luggage, Château Latour, the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado and Christie's auction house. His estimated fortune is US$13.7 billion.

“Ponant is now exceptionally profitable thanks to support from Bridgepoint,” says Bratton,”the funds allowed us to expand the fleet into what we have today.”

Bratton, whose luxury brand connections are well known, was uncharacteristically reserved when pressed on the question of her involvement in securing this massive deal.

“I was close to the activity, sure, but as you will understand, there are things we are not able to comment on at this critical point.

“What I am excited about is the long-term financial security, confidence and brand alignment we  stand to gain with this proposed transaction.”
Bratton was awarded an Order of Australia in 2014 “for her significant service to tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry and to business” and took the helm of Ponant in Australia after the luxury small ship cruise line she founded, Orion Expedition Cruises, was acquired by Lindblad Expeditions around the same time.

Bloomberg has estimated Ponant to have equity of around 400 million euro. The luxury French-flagged yacht operator had 120 million euro in revenue last year, according to its website. It was founded in 1988 and carried 23,000 passengers last year.

When the final nod is given, the popping of corks will surely be heard all the way to Marseilles.