Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Business Insider: Graeme Hart’s superyacht Odyssey sold to Kiwi businessman, Bauer’s magazine price, Phil Goff’s tape measure

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Mystery Kiwi buys Hart yacht

Billionaire Graeme Hart’s $21.4 million Princess superyacht Odyssey has been bought by a New Zealand businessman.

The sleek 40.2-metre vessel has been in the Mediterranean but is due back in Auckland in the New Year, in time for America’s Cup viewing.

Odyssey can accommodate up to 12 guests in five cabins, all with en suites, and seven crew. The cabins include two full-beam staterooms and a VIP suite featuring super-king beds with leather-topped bedside tables, and a spa bath and underfloor heating in each bathroom.

The highly specced vessel was built in the UK in 2015 and designed by superyacht expert Bernard Olesinski. The Fendi Casa interior oozes luxury, with walnut finishing, immaculate polished floors and lush carpeting.

The superyacht has generous lounge areas, formal dining for 10 inside and al fresco dining for 10 on the upper deck.

Outside it features multiple sun-deck spaces and a spa pool. The stern door drops down to create a teak-laid bathing platform at sea level, with access to a floating swimming pool. Toys stored in the garage include two tenders and a jet ski.

The Princess vessel, originally christened Anka and with a teal-coloured hull, was repainted dark blue after Hart bought it. The superyacht went up for sale last May with an asking price of $21.4m. Odyssey sold in November for an undisclosed price to a New Zealand businessman the Herald has agreed not to name.

Hart, 65, has made something of a money-making hobby in either building, or buying and refitting enormous superyachts in the past few years. So far he’s owned three superyachts called Ulysses – a 57.6m vessel he renamed, and another two -107m and 116m – he had built in Norway. He also owned the 77m superyacht Weta.

He has another superyacht called Odyssey, originally named J’Ade when Hart bought it last year. The 57m vessel has undergone a refit at Whangarei and is now in the Bay of Islands.

Hart, New Zealand’s richest man, owns private equity firm Rank Group, and global packaging, food and beverage giant Reynolds Group.

Mercury loving Kiwi mags

It’s now four months since publicity-shy Mercury Capital took ownership of a portfolio of iconic NZ magazines previously owned by German multimedia company Bauer.

The Insider understands Mercury – chaired by expat Kiwi Clark Perkins – is very happy with the way the deal has turned out, having paid just $15m for the New Zealand titles.

This figure has never been released publicly, and sources close to the business say Mercury believes the investment has paid for itself already.

Since the end of the lockdown, magazines have returned to supermarket shelves and with it at least some of the advertising revenue that had dried up.

Mercury, whose directors include Sky TV founder Craig Heatley, has a secret weapon in that it also owns Blue Star Group, which includes Webstar – the printer of many Bauer titles – so it’s making the most of it.

The New Zealand portfolio of magazines now trades under the banner Are Media and consists of flagship titles Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, and The Australian Women’s Weekly NZ, along with home category leader Your Home & Garden, current affairs weekly NZ Listener and Air New Zealand’s award-winning magazine Kia Ora.

It also includes websites Now to Love, Homes to Love and Beauty Heaven as well as real estate publication Property Press.

Popular titles not included in the portfolio are North & South, now owned by journalists Konstantin Richter and Verena Friederike Hasel, and Metro, which was acquired by businessman Simon Chesterman.

Reports out of Australia have suggested the full portfolio across both sides of the Tasman set Mercury back A$50m – pocket change compared to the A$525m Bauer paid for the properties in 2012.

My consultancy is bigger than your consultancy

Auckland Council’s reception lounge hosted an unusually corporate boasting match this week, as the mayor and councillors keenly measured the size of consultancies in a contest to prove that bigger is better.

The arena was the finance and performance committee where a usually pro-forma review of treasury policies had become charged after revelations the council’s use of interest rate swaps to cap its cost of debt has seen its books take a $2.7b hit as interest rates trended – seemingly inexorably – downwards.

Bright-eyed PWC partner Alex Wondergem presented and gave evidence that the council’s position was “vanilla”, “very consistent with best practice”, and its interest rate swaps were used “to provide certainty and security over outcomes”.

Goff could not resist getting out his measuring tape:”I think PWC employs more than a quarter of a million people around the world, I’m not quite sure how many people Rodney Jones employs.”

Economist Jones, and his Wigram capital, had appeared in the Herald the week prior arguing the council’s ballooning swaps liability represented a “disaster” for ratepayers.

Councillor Chris Darby attempted to drag discussions away from crude size and back towards ideas, but made matters worse by describing Wigram as “quite a small provincial company of just four people”.

For the record: Wigram is a macro advisory firm based largely in Auckland, and employs 15 staff including a number of data science PhDs who provided early modelling of Covid spread for the Beehive from January. Jones, it’s founder, was until recently based in Beijing providing advice on the Chinese banking system and has tended to appear more in the pages of the Financial Times than the New Zealand Herald.

Goff trumpeted Wondergem’s endorsement that showed “this is not a disaster, this is not incompetent, this is an orthodox – maybe a little conservative – way of managing your risks” and described the PWC partner’s perspective as “a third-party independent expert view”.

No mention was made, however, of Wondergem’s position on the council’s Treasury Management Steering Committee, having recently replaced fellow PWC partner Stuart Henderson. This steering committee was the very body which made the hedging decisions council was seeking assurances over.

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