Sanctions against Russia will have ripple effect on Dutch superyacht industry

The Dilbar, owned by Alisher Usmanov, is currently stuck in Hamburg. Photo: Wikipedia
The Dilbar, owned by Alisher Usmanov, is currently stuck in Hamburg. Photo: Wikipedia

The war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia are likely to have an impact on the Dutch superyacht industry, which has been heavily reliant on Russian customers in recent years.

Specialist magazine Superyacht Times said Russian customers accounted for 9% of luxury yacht sales and 13.2% of boats longer than 40 metres.

Among the biggest suppliers are Dutch manufacturers such as Heesen Yachts in Oss, Brabant, Damen Yachting in Vlissingen and Oceanco in Alblasserdam.

The last company was recently in the news for building a 127m yacht for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, which was so large that the company applied to have a historic bridge in Rotterdam temporarily dismantled so it could be delivered out to sea.

But the loss of Russian clients will be a blow to boat builders such as Heesen, which is currently putting the finishing touches to a €100 mn yacht commissioned by Azerbaijani businessman Vagit Alekperov.

Alekperov, a former deputy oil and gas minister in the Soviet Union, is now president of Russian oil company Lukoil, but currently he is not among the Russian businessmen and oligarchs on the European Union’s sanctions list.

‘Big impact’

Heesen has also built boats for Russian retail magnate Igor Kasaev and oil exploration billionaire Alexander Dzhaparidze and has two Russians on its supervisory board, according to investigative website Follow the Money.

Spokeswoman Sara Gioanola said: ‘We are concerned about the present situation. It will have a big impact on the industry.’

Damen Yachting is currently working on two orders for Russian customers and has previously built boats for Dzhaparidze and Oleg Tinkov, founder of the Tinkoff bank, who was convicted of tax fraud in the US last year.

Spokesman Robin Middel said no other orders had recently come in from Russia and none of the company’s customers are on the sanctions list. ‘We’ll see what happens. We’re dealing with sliding doors,’ he said.

Oceanco built the €290 million Nirvana for banker and art collector Vladimir Potanin, cited by Fortune as Russia’s wealthiest man, which was last seen cruising off the coast of the Maldives.

Vessels seized

Several Russian-owned superyachts have been seized by European port authorities since the start of the invasion. The Oceanco-built Amore Vero, owned by Igor Sechin, chairman of Russian state oil company Rosneft, was detained in the French port of La Ciotat last week.

And the Dilbar, a €550 mn yacht owned by Alisher Usmanov, Uzbek-born owner of the Kommersant publishing house, is currently marooned in Hamburg harbour where it has been undergoing a refit.

Hamburg’s economic authority denied reports that the boat had been confiscated, but a spokesman told Reuters: ‘I am not aware that a delivery of the yacht to its owner is currently planned.’

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