Leasing problem: why don’t you let me buy boat?


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BeFunky_Screen shot 2014-11-05 at 15.jpgAfter two months of pilgrimages to Mediterranean boat shows and a wonderful experience in the great Italian sailing festival that is the Barcolana, I have picked up positive signs for boating and sailing in particular, clouded by a major problem.

The first feeling is that there is, at last, a good air blowing. It is picked up in the operators’ speeches. Confidence in a more fulfilling 2015 can be gleaned from the less drawn-out smiles of operators, and after years of strongly negative signs, a result with a small positive sign is expected this year. Next year, the Italian boating market, according to estimates by the research office of the world’s largest shipyard, the Beneteau Group, estimates a round +5 percent. And usually French analysts are not wrong. But things in Italy could certainly be better next year, if only the tool that generated the boating boom in the early 2000s would restart: Italian nautical leasing. The figures of the zeroing of this financial instrument, which allows reducing the impact of VAT on the purchase value of a new boat, are merciless. Compared to 2007, when 2.5 billion had been disbursed (Assilea data), in 2013, six years later, the minus sign is 96 percent. It means that 100 million euros worth of nautical leases were disbursed in 2013. And for 2014, the banks’ purse strings remained closed. I put myself in the shoes of a buyer. But who makes him buy a boat “in cash” if thanks to nautical leasing he can spread the payments over time, without shelling out the principal right away, offsetting the interest with the VAT reduction that Italian nautical leasing allows? But there is also another negative influence on the boating market caused by the leasing stall, and it concerns the used boat market.

We have no official data to give you, but countless direct testimonies. The narrative is always the same, potential buyers of used boats with current leases, equipped with solid guarantees, have been refused to take over the contract. The reason for the refusal on the part of the leasing company, which, let us recall, owns the boat until the contract is terminated, is apparently unjustifiable. If the collateral is there why not give consent to take over the lease? The trade association, Assilea (Italian Leasing Association), is silent, indeed downplaying. As justification for this situation, there is talk in the circles of a bank that has on its “backlog” and to be resold 500 boats in charge, the result of unpaid leases, in truth almost all of them motorboats. And this bank is not the only one. It means that the used boat market is clogged with thousands of used boats, the result of unpaid lease installments, charged to banks. Certainly a big problem, not least because banks are holding book values for these boats that are certainly higher than current market values, which have fallen violently in recent years. And so, for now, they keep them in their bellies, so as not to generate losses. But this situation, triggered by the crisis in our country, must be overcome. As has happened in other European countries. One thing is certain, unless the mechanism of purchasing boats through Italian boat leasing is reactivated, the domestic market will not rebound significantly.

Fortunately, the sailing world is driven by passion that can be suppressed but not quenched. And so, drawing up the summation of the past year, there is another positive sign: the great desire for long sailing. Just run through the numbers of Italy’s major “offshore” regattas: record participation in the Middle Sea Race, the most challenging of the Mediterranean races (608 miles) with 122 boats at the start; as many as 206 boats at the start of the Giraglia (243 miles) not to mention 135 boats at the 151-mile race and 115 at the Brindisi Corfu. Who knows what would happen if obtaining the tonnage certificate, that set of boat and sail measurements used to obtain the so-called “rating,” that magic number that allows boats of different sizes and shapes to compete in a final ranking on an equal footing, were further simplified. For example, to see a 10-meter cruising/racing boat compete with a 20-meter racing super-monster. And perhaps to win, despite arriving at the finish line hours and hours later. One step toward simplification was taken by Mike Irvin, head of IRC Tonnage Regulations, who designed a universal measurement system (thus having the boat tared only once), which would then allow racing under any regulation. The system is called UMS (Universal Measurement System). is a good idea.



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