Trinity Yachts and TY Offshore, which have shipyards in New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss., have sold an equity stake to a Connecticut investment firm that could allow them to expand both Gulf Coast facilities.
In New Orleans that could mean another $5 million in capital improvements to the France Street yard and another 200 jobs added to the 120 there today, said John Dane III, president and chief executive officer.
Terms of the deal with Greenwich, Conn.-based Littlejohn & Co. were not disclosed.
Dane said the partnership, which will do business as Gulf Coast Shipyard Group, stems from a strong balance sheet and a current backlog of work on yachts, tugboats, barges, patrol and supply boats and other vessels.
“We decided we’d rather sell equity than take on bank debt,” he said.
In Gulfport, the deal paves the way for a long-planned $9 million expansion that would add 200 employees to the 650 there now and increase capacity by 25 percent.
As for the New Orleans facility, which is the old Higgins shipyard on the Industrial Canal, Dane said that after this summer all Trinity yachts will be made in New Orleans, along with aluminum crew boats and inland river towboats.
“Those are the three products we see New Orleans focusing on in the near future,” he said.
Trinity Yachts and TY Offshore had 550 employees in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees breached. It reopened the yard one year later, and managed to grow it back to 350 employees by the time of the financial crisis in 2008.
The demand for yachts plummeted, bringing down employment at the yard with it. It now has 120 workers.
“We’re bidding new contracts that would be specifically for New Orleans and, if we get some of the pending contracts, we could see hiring another 200 people,” Dane said, noting that time frame is the next 12 months.
Danes said the vessels will still be marketed as Trinity Yachts, and TY Offshore and the shipyards will still bear the name. Gulf Coast Shipyard Group, headquartered in Gulfport, will also operate International Yacht Collection, a wholly owned yacht brokerage unit.
Felix S. Sabates Jr. will step down as chairman to become an adviser and consultant to the new organization.
Littlejohn is investing from a fund with more than $1.3 billion in capital commitments.
(Source: Google News: The Advocate. View the original story here.)