Moonen Yachts are owned by Australian couple

Dutch builder Moonen Yachts has declared it has entered into a new ownership, just a month after filing for bankruptcy protection with the Dutch court.

Matthew and Louise Baxter
Matthew and Louise Baxter

The new owners of the yard are an Australian couple, Matthew and Louise Baxter. Matthew, of Scottish origin, is a successful Australian businessman and entrepreneur, who in 1972 established the A M Group, a privately owned worldwide group of manufacturing companies of which he is executive chairman.

For several years, Moonen Shipyards was entirely owned by Mexico’s largest steel manufacturer Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA). During that period several yachts were delivered and business ran well at Moonen, thanks to the financial support of AHMSA.

The situation changed last May, when Mr. Ancira, the chairman of AMHSA, was arrested on the Spanish island of Mallorca, accused of bribery. Consequentially, AHMSA’s bank accounts got frozen, including the one from Moonen. Some of the accounts were unfrozen after a while, but the money tap for the shipyard remained closed. The lack of financial support to pay wages and settle the required payments on the building of Project YN199 on speculation, led Moonen to declare bankruptcy.

Moonen Yachts

The setuation with AMSHA reflected in substantial financial instability of the yard in the past. When in 2015 the steel prices dropped dramatically, Moonen was filed for suspension of payment for a longer period of time. To avoid such an insecure period again, the management of Moonen was already looking for a new investor.

In fact, the investor has been found and conversations were at an advanced stage in order to proceed a normal takeover of the shares. Due to the arrest of Mr. Ancira and the loss of cash flow, it was necessary to speed up the process with the intended shareholder, and try to avoid a bankruptcy. However, there was hardly any communication possible with the shareholder and finally Moonen Shipyards was no longer able to meet its obligations towards personnel and suppliers thus bankruptcy followed on the 11th of July.

Moonen Yachts

Still, the bankruptcy has cleared the road for the new Moonen in a way, as the proposed investor shared his wish to fully disconnect from AHMSA after the situation occurred last May. What the bankruptsy has relieved the new stakeholders of the responsibility to pay off Moonen’s debts.

Louise and Matthew Baxter first discovered Moonen Yachts whilst sailing on Pittwater harbour in Sydney where they came across Moonen 84 Aurora. That lead to their involvement with Moonen.

Mr Baxter, who also remains executive chairman of the A M Group, said:
It is a privilege to own a yard like Moonen. The brand has an impeccable pedigree, the yachts are true Dutch quality and the team is young, reliable, talented and very loyal to the company. These characteristics are fundamental for success.

The shipyard is very honoured and excited with Mr & Mrs. Baxter as their new owners. Moonen’s CEO Johan Dubbelman highlights:
We have trust in these new investors and have faith that they will establish a strong future for Moonen Yachts. The 30 to 50 metre market is solid for well-built designs, and our plans are to increase production. Currently we have one, award winning, 36-metre Martinique in build, she’s 50% ready. The focus is to have her on display at the Monaco Yacht Show 2020.

The company aims at scaling up production efficiently and starting two new build projects in the upcoming 6 months, he said.

Following on with the current build we will start a second 36 metre and a 44 metre, both new and future proof timeless Moonen yachts with interiors designed by the award winning renowned design houses, like Studio Indigo. By building on speculation, delivery times will be shorter and customisation still possible, which is an absolute advantage for our future clients.

The yard reports, the majority of the staff and workforce have been reappointed and are enthusiastic to be part of a strong new leadership. To assure continuous high-end quality, Moonen Yachts is going to reinforce the cooperation with long-term strategic partners and subcontractors.