Oyster Yachts, which went into administration last month, has new ownership. Richard Hadida, an entrepreneur and loyal fan of the British builder’s sailing yachts, has acquired it.
Hadida gained fame for establishing a gaming software company, Evolution Gaming. In interviews with media this week, he says he’s enjoyed sailing aboard an Oyster for several years. Not only has he chartered, he has also sailed with racecar team chief Eddie Jordan. “I fell in love with Oyster, the yachts, the events, and more importantly the Oyster family,” he explains. “My passion for the brand has driven my decision to acquire the business.”
Oyster Yachts shut its doors in February. David Tydeman, the then-CEO, issued a statement explaining it didn’t have the finances to continue operations. This, despite issuing a press release at the end of 2017 stating it had more than £80 million in orders and, according to Tydeman, “a positive outlook for 2018 and 2019.” Multiple media reports, however, pointed to an insurance claim as a major financial issue, among cost-control problems. The insurance claim stemmed from the sinking of Polina Star III, an Oyster 825, in 2015. An investigation found structural failure of her keel. Shortly after Oyster shut its doors, KPMG Restructuring stepped in to find a buyer for Oyster Yachts, setting a deadline of March 2 for bids.
Since the acquisition is still new, there are not yet firm numbers regarding how many employees will see jobs restored. Oyster Yachts employed more than 400 people in recent months, for example. Hadida also has not commented as to what he spent to buy the yacht builder, though he does state the number is in the “many millions.”
While other yacht builders have had customers come in and rescue them, Hadida is clear in his intentions. “My investment in Oyster is not merely a hobby,” he says. “Oyster needs to be a sustainable business. Hard, quick decisions need to be taken.” For the short term, he will serve as the chief executive. He intends to find a permanent replacement, along with new management.