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French billionaire Pinault's Artemis plans to fuel Ponant's growth

Le Boréal - one of four Ponant mega-yachts introduced between 2010 and 2015 (Photo: © Phlip Plisson)
The holding company of French billionaire François Pinault confirmed media reports it is seeking to acquire Ponant from the private equity firm Bridgepoint.

'Demand in the luxury cruise market has been robust, buoyed by an affluent and international client base, particularly from North America and Southeast Asia,' Artemis said Monday in a statement, adding it will 'provide the capital to fuel Ponant’s ambitions, its international expansion and the company’s next level of growth.'

The statement went on to say that 'Partnering closely with [Ponant] co-founder Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée and vice chairman Véronique Saadé, Artemis will continue to pursue Ponant’s winning strategy, while preserving its essence: refinement and excellence à la française.'

Artemis, chaired by François-Henri, Pinault’s son, is the controlling shareholder of the Kering group whose assets include the fashion brands Gucci and Saint-Laurent, auction house Christie’s and Bordeaux first growth wine estate Chateau Latour.

Founded in 1988 by Sauvée and headquartered in Marseille, Ponant has a fleet of four luxury mega-yachts introduced between 2010 and 2015 that carry 224 to 264 passengers each. The company also operates the 64-passenger, three-masted yacht Ponant.

Ponant is a leading cruise operator in the polar regions. In 2015, the company expects to carry more than 30,000 passengers, with revenues forecast to exceed €140m.

The company was valued at around €400m in recent media reports. However, Artemis did not disclose any financial details of its offer.