Marina operator snaps up rival and sets sail for growth

A Long Eaton provider of residential and leisure berths, boat sales, floating homes and marine services has snapped up a rival in a deal advised on by Clearwater International.

LDC-backed Aquavista has snapped up Castle Marinas. The firm has 18 locations across the UK and employs over 100 staff. The transaction will expand its existing portfolio with an additional footprint of 11 marinas, including Crick Marina home of the world-famous Crick Boat Show and the picturesque Birdham Pool Marina at Chichester Harbour.

Aquavista’s new offering will provide 29 marinas and over 5,000 marina berths UK-wide, at both inland and coastal locations.

The investment was funded by LDC. Debt facilities were provided by Barings. LDC partnered with Aquavista in December 2018 to support targeted capital investment across the marina estate. Since then, the business has invested more than €3.5m (£3m) to improve its marina facilities.

The Clearwater International team consisted of partners Richard O’Donnell and Joe Dyke, director Richard Ellis, associate director Kieran Virr and executives Joe Savage and Chetan Malia.

Steve de Polo, CEO, Aquavista, said: “The Clearwater team worked very closely with us to deliver this transaction. They were integral to helping us get this deal done, and we are very grateful for their support in navigating an asset backed debt financing and in providing a driven M&A team focused on the acquisition of Castle. It has been an intense process and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Mike Braidley, operations director, Castle Marinas, added: “Castle Marinas is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Aquavista. It is clear how closely our mission statements align, and we believe Aquavista is ideally placed to continue to deliver and, indeed, improve on our commitment to be ‘Big enough to cope, small enough to care’. This transaction will support our waterside teams to continue providing a friendly, helpful and professional service at all our locations.”

David Bains, investment director at LDC, said: “Aquavista is one of the most respected operators in its sector thanks to its customer-focus. We are enjoying working alongside Steve and his team to grow the business by investing in its estate, and this acquisition represents a significant milestone in establishing the firm as the market leader.”

Richard O’Donnell, partner, Clearwater International, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with both LDC and the management team of Aquavista to deliver this transformational transaction. We have been very impressed by both LDC’s commitment to the marinas sector and the quality of the Aquavista management team. We have no doubt that, together, they will create significant shareholder value through their management of a much larger business. We look forward to following their journey.”

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