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Palmer Johnson Acquires Intermarine Savannah

EXCLUSIVE!
PALMER JOHNSON BUYS INTERMARINE SAVANNAH

January 30, 2003 — Power & Motoryacht has learned that Palmer Johnson is hours away from announcing the acquisition of Intermarine Savannah.

"It's in process," Calvin Hancock, the chief financial officer and acting CEO of Intermarine, told us in a phone interview this morning. He said he didn't know when the final decision would be made, and when we reached Phil Friedman, president of Palmer Johnson, for comment, he cited a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from making a statement. But a source close to the negotiations tells us that the document signing for the transfer of ownership could take place as early as this afternoon, and a formal announcement of the acquisition could come Friday.

According to court documents filed last week, WorldCom, which currently owns Intermarine, asked a bankruptcy court for permission to sell the yard to Palmer Johnson for $9.8 million, $2.8 million of which would be invested in the yard and used to pay off Intermarine's debts. WorldCom wants to unload Intermarine for a few reasons. It acquired the yard last November from Bernie Ebbers, the company's former chief executive, as a partial repayment of the $408 million in loans he owed the company. In addition, WorldCom indicated in the court filing that Intermarine is losing more than $100,000 per week.

Speculation has been rampant in the yacht business as to what the eventual owner of Intermarine would do with it. While the yard has a refit facility that has regularly attended to some of the world's largest yachts, including the 316-foot Limitless and 172-foot Gallant Lady, Intermarine also has a new-construction division that focuses on building all-fiberglass yachts on spec, a tough position given the economic decline of the past two years.

When we questioned Friedman about what Palmer Johnson would do with Intermarine, particularly because it already has a refit facility in Savannah, he again cited the confidentiality agreement in declining to comment. But an inside source tells us that Palmer Johnson will use Intermarine and the PJ Savannah facilities to jointly build a new series of yachts, to be named PJ Sport Yachts. According to the source, the yachts will range in size from 120 to 150 feet and be built on a semicustom basis in either all aluminum or a combination of aluminum hulls and composite superstructures.

As soon as a formal announcement of the acquisition of Intermarine is made, we'll update this space.

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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