Royale Oceanic website interview with Neil Noble, Finance Partner Stephenson Harwood.

With so many legal firms of all types vying for superyacht related business, we asked Neil Noble, Finance Partner with international law firm, Stephenson Harwood ‘what he felt were the advantages for a prospective superyacht purchaser using a firm like his with experience across the complete spectrum of the shipping industry, as opposed to a legal company that specialises solely in the purchase of superyachts?’

Neil replied: “Because of the vastly different characteristics of yachts over commercial vessels there is always a good case for engaging a specialist superyacht lawyer, especially when taking in to account issues such as the contractual terms on which the survey and sea trials are conducted and the processes for any subsequent acceptance or rejection of the yacht. Furthermore, lawyers that have experience beyond the superyacht market are able to draw upon a broader range of knowledge and skills they can apply when faced with problems. That has certainly been my experience when dealing with difficult purchases when they are at risk of becoming contentious, having a depth of experience to draw on can be vital to working out a solution”.

We then went on to discuss superyacht financing in general and asked Neil what he felt have been the most significant changes post 2008.

“In the current climate we have been increasingly called upon by our clients to help them with re-structuring and re-financing arrangements and in some cases with enforcements and insolvencies. But the biggest change we have seen in the last 5 years has been the exit of most of the specialist players in yacht finance and a consequential reduction in lending capacity to the market.  Pre 2008 there were a good number of banks that had dedicated yacht finance teams who viewed yacht financing as a stand alone product.  Since then many have closed their doors to new business and of those that remain (which are not many) have moved away from solely financing yachts to only lending to clients with whom it has, or soon expects to have a wider wealth relationship.  These days most of the banks willing to lend on the acquisition of the yacht, will only do so if the loan is part of a portfolio of services that the bank is providing to the owner, which means the owner needs to place significant assets and other business with the bank.” 

Clearly finance is definitely still available for the right client and the right project – it’s just going to take more time and effort to find and secure it.