Wealth Blog

Chinese buy Sunseeker - a smart move

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 12:21am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 12:21am

You’ve got to hand it to young Kim Jong-un, brazenly flaunting his new luxury yacht in North Korea. He’s got style for the tubby leader of a totalitarian state. It runs in the family - his dad Kim Jong-il loved his yacht so much he was buried with it. Now Kim Jong-un has been showing off his flash £4.5 million boat which has somehow evaded international sanctions. And it doesn’t sit idle - he gets in it. According to NK News, he recently used a 95-foot Princess to tour the country's east coast for a 10-day official trip.

If the craft – which looks like a Princess 95MY - was acquired by Kim recently, he could have busted UN sanctions banning the sale or export of "luxury goods" to the North Korean government.

The UN vetoed sales of luxury goods to North Korea in 2006 in yet another fruitless attempt to halt their nuclear programme. But the woolly terms of the ban left open the interpretation of "luxury goods". A few months ago luxury cars and yachts were specifically included.

French luxury brand group LVMH owns British-based Princess Yachts, makers of the 95MY.

State media spotted the yacht during a top over at a fishery in May, then state news agency KCNA showed Kim and his generals walking along the docks during an inspection, with the yacht visible behind them. NK News thinks it was deliberately in shot, and who knows what message the propaganda machine was trying to spread.

The latest version of the yacht, the Princess 98MY, starts at £5.6 million. As for the yacht maker, they said they were now investigation how one of its gleaming machines got into Kim’s hands.


Chinese buy Sunseeker

In future Kim should find upgrading his yacht much easier. The Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is buying top yacht maker Sunseeker. The British firm’s yachts have starred in James Bond films, just the latest in the trend for Chinese companies to snap up top end global brands.

The company said on Wednesday it had bought a 91.8% stake in privately held Sunseeker for £320m. Stroll down the boardwalk of the Aberdeen Marina Club boatyard any day and you can’t throw a Gucci loafer without hitting the shiny white fibre glass hull of a Sunseeker. From soy sauce brand Lee Kum Kee to Li Ka- shing’s scion Richard Li and shipping tycoon George Chao, their Sunseekers are all moored there. The fuel bill for one of these elegant gin palaces for a weekend jolly to Sai Kung is at least HK$25,000, so Beijing officials will have a tough time sneaking one past Xi Jin-ping’s killjoy austerity measures even if they get sent a free sample. But now that his Chinese pals are at the Sunseeker helm, Kim might be able to bend the rules a bit and “borrow” a Sunseeker if and when he wants to upgrade. Or he could just say it was a fishing boat. He doesn’t have to say what he is fishing for and I'm sure they have mermaids up there.

Or maybe it’s Beijing’s latest ploy to tempt him to give up the nukes. “We’ll give you a new Sunseeker if you stop the nuclear tests.” This boy loves his toys – so it might just work. Don’t laugh, no one’s come up with a better idea yet.