Artémis, holding company of France’s Pinault family, has announced that it is to acquire Marseilles-based luxury small cruise ship operator Ponant.
Already the owner of auction house Christie’s and other luxury brands, Artemis said that it had engaged in exclusive talks with a view to acquiring Ponant, which belonged until 2012 to container shipping group CMA CGM.
Since then, it has been owned by private equity group Bridgepoint which has confirmed that it plans to sell the company to Artémis.
Founded in 1988 by a group of French merchant navy officers, Ponant currently operates a fleet of five vessels with an average age of 2.5 years. The Le Boréal, the L’Austral, the Le Soleal and the Le Lyrial, delivered in April this year, offer capacity for up to 264 passengers, while the 1991-built three-masted yacht, Le Ponant, offers accommodation for 64.
Bridgepoint said that the company was currently transporting over 30,000 passengers annually to the Polar regions and other destinations, adding that it had doubled sales to EUR140 million under its ownership and tripled profits.
It indicated that it had increased Ponant’s passenger capacity by 11% through the replacement of two older ships by new ones, the opening of sales offices in China and Australia and the acquisition of an additional sales channel in North America.
Bridgepoint partner in Paris Xavier Robert said, “The planned transaction ensures the continuity of the company’s ambitions with the acquisition of our interests by a like-minded long-term shareholder.”
Artémis declined to tell IHS Maritime when it expected to complete the acquisition but said in a press release that it would be working closely with Ponant’s co-founder Emmanuel Sauvée and vice chairman Véronique Saadé to build on the company’s “winning” strategy and French-style refinement and excellence.
“Artemis will provide the capital to fuel Ponant’s ambitions, its international expansion and the company’s next level of growth,” it said.