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About Dufour Yachts

Dufour was founded in 1964 and currently manufactures approximately 600 sailing boats annually in the size range 32’-54’. At the end of the 1990s, Dufour experienced significant operational difficulties resulting in severe financial losses, mainly due to the diminished appeal of its brand as the result of over expansion into every type of sail boat category as well as significant production difficulties and quality problems resulting from too rapid expansion and poor management.

In 2001, ISB acquired a 47% stake in Dufour from Union Investissement, the investment arm of Credit Agricole, with the remaining stake held by three creditor banks, and started a turnaround of Dufour.

About Cantiere del Pardo

Cantiere del Pardo was founded in the 1970s by Giuseppe Giuliani Ricci, who is still involved in the management of the Company and owns a significant equity stake.

Cantiere del Pardo has experienced significant growth in the last ten years, having produced only 36 boats in 1997 vis-à-vis 172 in FY 2005 (CAGR of 22%).

Cantiere del Pardo produces yachts of lengths of 37’-56’ under the well recognized brand Grand Soleil. Its main line is a performance cruising line, but it also sells a racing/regatta line, the production for which is outsourced.

Grand Soleil’s brand awareness is maintained and fuelled by Cantiere del Pardo’s boats’ participation in several upscale regattas that Cantiere del Pardo organizes each year in the Mediterranean Sea. Grand Soleil’s boats are the undisputed leaders in these regattas.

About Rhône Capital

Rhône Capital is a mid-market private equity investment firm with European focus and transatlantic capabilities. Founded in 1997 by a group of former Lazard partners, the Firm today has offices in London, Paris and New York.

The Managing Directors in most cases have been working together for over 20 years and own 100% of the Firm.

Rhône’s 21 investment professionals include members from eight nationalities, all with substantial international private equity investment experience.

Total equity provided in Rhône’s investments to date (including co-investors) exceeds $1.2 billion, representing aggregate transaction value of $3.0 billion. Rhône is a disciplined value investor with clear and transparent investment criteria.

The Deal

Italy-based holding company ISB (International Sail Boats), responsible for both Italian company Cantiere de Pardo, which builds the Grand Soleil sailing cruiser range, and Dufour, France’s second-largest sailing cruiser builder, has acquired a new majority shareholder.

The Rhône Group, a private-equity operation with offices in London, Paris and New York, now holds a controlling 70 per cent.

Around 15 per cent of the shares remain with Guiseppe Rasero, a longstanding backer of Del Pardo, and founder Guiseppe Guiliani. The rest of the shares are scattered among various members of the top management teams of the Italian and French yards.

Cantieri del Pardo builds all its cruising boats at its Forli facilities, which also now serves as the administrative HQ of ISB, but the race models are subcontracted to specialist companies and not necessarily companies based in either Italy or France.

For the year to the end of August 2005, Del Pardo delivered 167 boats — around 160 cruising boats, plus seven of the ‘Race’ models, says Paul Wuyts, the ISB director responsible for the sales and marketing functions for both Dufour and Grand Soleil.

Del Pardo turnover for 2004/05 reached €39 million and the forecast for 2005/06 is for just over €40 million on the sale of 200 Grand Soleils.

Dufour Yachts, with a simplified approach to all its activities and a revitalised model line-up, is now back in profit. The Dufour portfolio includes eight relatively new sailing cruiser models from 9.8m-16m (32ft-53ft).

With a staff of around 450, Dufour’s turnover for the year to the end of August 2005 was €56 million on the sale of 565 boats. For 2005/06 the target is €82 million on the sale of 720 boats.



Founder & Managing Partner