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Centerbridge Consolidating Marina Owners To Create $2.5B Company


Private equity investor Centerbridge Partners is planning to acquire Westrec Marinas, the third-largest U.S. owner of marinas, for about $400M. Centerbridge already owns the second-largest marina company, Suntex Marinas, which it acquired last year.

At the conclusion of the deal, Centerbridge will merge Westrec into Suntex, forming a $2.5B entity that owns more than 50 marinas, The Wall Street Journal reports. Only Safe Harbor Marinas will be a larger owner in the niche marina market, with more than 120 assets.

Centerbridge is betting that the rising popularity of recreational boating will continue. More than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020, or 12% more than in 2019, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which predicts that sales will have topped 300,000 again in 2021. The industry hasn't seen that level of sales since before the Great Recession in 2008. 

“2020 was an extraordinary year for new powerboat sales, as more Americans took to the water to escape pandemic stress and enjoy the outdoors safely,” NMMA President Frank Hugelmeyer said in a statement in January. “For the first time in more than a decade, we saw an increase in first-time boat buyers."

Suntex itself has been an active buyer of marinas recently. In January, the company acquired Lynn Creek Marina on Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. That property has 528 wet slips capable of accommodating vessels up to 50 feet, along with 116 dry storage stacks, a 450-seat floating restaurant, a ships’ store, a rental boat fleet, a gasoline dock, a boat ramp and a boat service center.

Other investors have taken note of the popularity of boating as well. In November, Miami-based Integra Investments teamed up with investment firm BLG Capital Advisors to acquire more than $200M in marina assets, the first of which was Prime Marina East Greenwich in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, which features 186 wet slips accommodating boat lengths up to 300 feet, plus 170 dry storage stacks, a marine store, a restaurant and a boat repair facility.

“We believe the marina industry is an underserved, highly fragmented asset class that is ripe for institutional investment, ready for a higher caliber product for boaters," BLG Capital Advisors Director of Real Estate Matt Tuthill said in November.