Rich Asians go full steam ahead into superyachts

Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:01am EDT
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By John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The newly wealthy in Asia think nothing of spending big money on a big boat for prestige and fun but the region's nascent yachting class may have trouble finding a berth in overcrowded marinas.

Asia is home to less than 4 percent of the world's 7,000 superyachts but interest has been taking off for the last five years and many buyers are young, executives from the luxury boat industry said at a conference in Singapore on Wednesday.

"We had a guy turn up a few weeks ago in a Lamborghini and say 'Look, my friend has just bought the same Lamborghini. What can we do different?'" Simon Turner, the Singapore-based director of yacht brokers Northrop and Johnson, told Reuters.

"So we got some boat brochures and he said 'I'll buy one'. It was done in five minutes. That's a $10 million yacht."

As Western economies sputter, Asia has steamed along with growth and wealth creation. The 2011 Merrill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report showed Asia has 3.3 million people with high net worth, just behind the 3.4 million in North America but ahead of the 3.1 million in Europe.

It is a trend the yacht industry is keen to capture, along with Singapore, which is rebranding itself as a sophisticated haven for the rich with casinos, top shopping and four marinas that can accommodate boats of 25 meters (82 feet) and longer.

This week's Asia-Pacific Superyacht Conference flows into the Singapore Yacht Show that runs from Friday to Sunday, when the ultra-affluent can peruse some of the world's largest boats, check out a showcase of supercars, sip champagne in a VIP lounge and enjoy meals by Michelin-starred chef Pascal Aussignac.

The biggest boat in the show, the 57-metre (187-foot) MY Montigne, is also for sale to anyone with a spare $21.8 million.   Continued...

A luxury yacht is berthed at the One Degree 15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove in Singapore April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Chong