Sunseeker sold

US investment company buys Sunseeker from Chinese ownership.

Written by David Robinson

12 April 2024


After a run of international media reports from such as Bloomberg and the South China Morning Post there is growing acceptance that the leading UK luxury yacht builder Sunseeker International has been sold by its Chinese owners, Dalian Wanda to Lionheart Capital, a Miami-based investment house.

The cause for the sale appears to be that Dalian Wanda, a huge Chinese conglomerate owning shipping malls, real estate and entertainment centres, is facing serious financial challenges and needs to raise funds to reduce its debts and fend off bankruptcy.

It is reported that the arm of the Dalian Wanda Group that owns Sunseeker International has signed a sale and purchase agreement with Lionheart Capital but as yet no one of the three parties involved have given any confirmation about the deal.

The purchase would be subject to UK regulatory approval but this is unlikely to be an issue as other UK yacht builders such as Princess Yachts are owned by an American private equity group and Fairline Yachts by a Luxembourg-headquartered private equity house. There have been suggestions that the deal could be completed as early as next month.


Sunseeker International, founded in 1969, was bought by Dalian Wanda in 2013 acquiring a 92 percent stake for around £320 million. This stake has since increased and is now understood to total at least 96 percent.

Regarding Lionheart Capital, it is a diversified investment firm focused on building shareholder value in high-growth companies. It’s principals have been involved in the successful acquisition, development, repositioning and disposition of real estate and publicly-traded assets for over 30 years.

Lionheart’s key investment areas retail, commercial property, residential and hospitality and private and publically-listed companies. Among the latter segment of its interests is the World Champion Cigarette Racing Team which is described as an American Offshore Legend, which has been owned by Lionheart since 2021.

This US brand builds a range of seven hand-crafted boats between 38 and 59-feet which focus on performance, power, precision and comfort. Ironically, the Cigarette business was found in 1969, the same year as Sunseeker International.

Lionheart Capital’s founder and CEO is Ophir Sternberg and the spread of companies owned by Lionheart includes restaurant chains, technology companies and a reimbursement specialist.

Wang Jianling, Dalian Wanda’s chairman said at the time of buying Sunseeker that “the investment was driven by growth in China’s consumption of high-end luxury products.”

Dalian Wanda’s link with Sunseeker originally involved the Chinese group wanting to buy some 30 Sunseekers to serve charter operations at three marinas planned to be built in the north, middle and south of China – only one was ever built, but this project resulted in Dalian Wanda deciding to buy the brand, which it has supported strongly ever since.

Only last year Dalian Wanda confirmed £40m investment for product development and changes to the build facilities in Poole.



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