VT behind schedule on Avis tycoon's £30m giant yacht

Click to follow
The Independent Online

VT, the shipbuilding and support services group formerly known as Vosper Thornycroft, has hit difficulties building the world's biggest yacht.

VT, the shipbuilding and support services group formerly known as Vosper Thornycroft, has hit difficulties building the world's biggest yacht.

Construction of the £30m vessel for the American millionaire Joe Vittoria, who made his fortune from the Avis car hire company, is running two months behind schedule and VT said it did not now expect to make much profit from the job.

The Mirabella V is 75m long with an 85m high mast and is being made out of fibreglass with the same technology VT uses to build Royal Navy minesweepers. It has just 12 luxury berths and its own swimming pool.

Paul Lester, VT's chief executive, said the yacht had proved to be a "challenging programme" but despite this it was still due to be launched in September and delivered this year.

He was speaking as VT met analysts' forecasts with an 11 per cent increase in pre-tax profits before exceptional items and goodwill to £41.5m for the year to the end of March and a pledge to meet its target of double-digit earnings growth for the next two years.

Mr Lester said that VT, which now generates 70 per cent of its £565m turnover from government support services contracts and PFI work, had a £2bn order book which guarantees 90 per cent of this year's revenues. The company has £357m of warship work, £200m of which is accounted for by the Type 45 destroyer programme which is just going into construction.

The group is bidding for £1.5bn of warship orders and a further £5bn worth of support service contracts. The shipbuilding work, which would be carried out at VT's new £90m yard in Portsmouth, includes a 20 per cent share of the £3bn contract won by BAE Systems and Thales to build two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.

VT is also bidding for orders from New Zealand, Oman and Greece, where it is in discussions about a £100m contract for two further fast attack craft and is the sole bidder for a new corvette for the Hellenic Navy.

The company also said it was using £5m of the proceeds from the sale of its former Woolston yard in Southampton to boost pension contributions. The VT pension scheme is currently showing a £57m deficit.

Comments