Alfa: Why investing in time reaps biggest rewards

The 70m Benetti Alfa was bought by a client of Anton Foord.

The 70m Benetti Alfa was bought by a client of Anton Foord.

As an investor in time, Anton Foord hopes to reap perpetual rewards.

Foord, of Ocean Independence, has recently represented the buyer in the purchase of the 70-metre Benetti Alfa, with an asking price of €67m ($71.5m).

Like many deals, it was the culmination of several years scouring the market, tapping up contacts and building the trust of the buyer, who was a referral from a long-standing client.

“In this industry, like many others with high-value assets and very discreet people, trust is paramount,” Foord tells Superyacht Investor.

‘Patience, knowledge, rapport’ 

The quest began in 2020, both on and off market, for a larger boat but “for a first-time owner, going larger than 70 metres is a big bite”, says Foord, and they settled on a “sweet spot” of about 60-75m and a volume of about 1,200GT.

 The search took Foord and his client all over the world, “from Miami to Monaco to Turkey to Dubai”, attending multiple yacht shows and looking at “many different yachts”.

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They visited Alfa in Tarragona, south of Barcelona in Spain and returned to the yacht on other occasions in Barcelona before completing the deal with Vassilis Fotilas of Fraser Yachts, who was representing the seller, an experienced yachtsman with a large fleet.

“It has been a long journey,” adds Foord. “People forget how long it takes but with such enormous sums of money at stake, there is no rush. It just shows you the time investment, patience, knowledge and the rapport you have to have with a client to conclude a deal of this nature.

 “You have to be a very good negotiator to get them the deal they want. We had a budget and we wouldn’t deviate from it. The family wanted a boat of a certain age, of a certain calibre and pedigree of yard, seven staterooms, an elevator … what they didn’t want was equally as important.” 

READ: Why new-build yachts need operational design input

The Ocean Independence team are readying Alfa for charter.

The Ocean Independence team are readying Alfa for charter.

‘Sense of humour’ 

Borrowing a phrase from one of his colleagues, Foord likens his role to that of the “conductor of an orchestra”.

“The client is bringing you in to represent his interests and relying on your knowledge and contacts of the best people, from surveyors to lawyers to shipyards to whoever else; financing can come into some deals as well, and it’s the broker’s ability to find something and someone that others can’t, and which suits the client,” he says.

“We present the facts, along with our guidance and counsel, in order that clients can make an informed decision.”

Fotilas agrees, saying “a good broker must know the yachts, be hard working, discrete, patient, persistent, consistent, reliable and calm under pressure”.

“A good sense of humour and good people skills are always a plus and experience is hard to beat,” he adds.

READ: Jim Evans on the good, the bad and the ugly of yacht broking

‘Engage a wide audience’

Far from putting up his feet now the deal has been done, Foord describes it as an “ongoing relationship” with the buyer and his family. He has since been busy working with various other division heads within Ocean Independence, including Daniel Küpfer, MD of the yacht management division, and senior charter manager Stephanie Archer, readying Alfa for charter.

A key pillar has been installing a new captain, who was previously a successful charter skipper on the 68m Abeking & Rasmussen yacht Soaring.

“The captain is so fundamental to your yacht, especially a charter vessel. It all starts at the top,” says Foord. “Already we’re seeing new crew coming in, new standards of procedure, new ideas, it’s really exciting.” 

READ: Ian Petts on the whims of the rich and finance headaches

While all this is going on, of course, brokers must build the pipeline and keep all their other plates spinning.

“You have to engage a wide audience” says Foord. “There are buyers who are qualified and want to go yachting but don’t yet know if it’s for them and you start that journey with them. It’s about carefully listening and understanding their motivations and tastes, in order to support them on that journey with your knowledge and experience.

“You have to be a good judge of character and develop a good sense of intuition for people. It is an important skill.”

While some relationships can be slow burners, others can yield results quickly.

“For ex-Azteca [now Arbemawhich I sold in November 2021 (a 72m CRN, 2000GT motor yacht) I’d known the client for a relatively short time,” says Foord. “However, he said I’m looking for this, I went off to find exactly what he wanted and negotiated a price he was happy with. The deal was done quickly.”

Foord's four-year search for a yacht ended with the purchase of Alfa.

Foord and his client spent four years looking at yachts before buying Alfa.

‘Go the extra mile’

Foord started out working in wealth management but quickly discovered he “couldn’t sit behind a desk looking at financial markets all day”.

A love of sailing plus experience of working with high-net-worth individuals took him into yacht broking and he knew he’d found his passion.

“This is a job where, as a broker, you aren’t generally paid a salary, and where you create a great deal yourself to a large degree,” he adds. “You have to be passionate, you have to love it, to toil away and to go the extra mile. 

“It really is what you make of it. When people see a big deal concluded it paints a very colourful picture, but they don’t see the years of hard work. 

“In reality, it takes incredible determination, energy and outstanding teamwork to get a deal such as Alfa across the line.

“A lot of people believe it is easy, they then have a go and realise how challenging it is. I hugely respect other brokers who do it consistently. It is a hugely rewarding experience when it comes to completion.’’

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