Ivan Erceg's luxury yacht seized in France

GREG NINNESS
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2009

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CREDITORS HAVE pursued Sensation Yachts owner Ivan Erceg to the south of France, impounding his luxurious private super yacht, the Sensation.

Writs were attached to the mast of the yacht while it was berthed at Marseille earlier this month, preventing it from leaving port.

Even by the standards of the Mediterranean, where super yachts are relatively common, the 50 metre-long Sensation turns heads.

Built at Sensation Yachts' Henderson yard, and launched in 2007, it has five double guest suites and quarters for nine crew.

Its cabins are lined with marble and exotic hardwoods, with the main salon featuring a grand piano and a bar. There is also a formal dining room with seating for 10 and a Jacuzzi on the teak-lined deck.

The yacht's twin 3000hp engines give it a maximum speed of 22 knots and cruising speed of 18 knots.

Speaking from France, Erceg said the yacht was commissioned by his late brother, billionaire liquor baron Michael Erceg, and he inherited the partially built vessel after his brother was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005.

He said Sensation Yachts was to have received $250,000 a week from Michael to complete the vessel, but that arrangement had stopped after Michael's death and he had paid for it to be completed from his own resources.

He was now trying to sell the yacht and his mansion on the Cote d'Azur, both of which are owned by his family trust. Sensation had an asking price of 26.5 million ($60m) and the mansion was listed for sale at 48m ($108m).

Erceg said the proceeds of those sales would give him more than enough cash to rejuvenate his boat building business.

"At the moment my asset base is extreme but my liquidity is low. My personal debt to equity ratios are still very favourable so there's no issues on that," he said.

He would be having discussions with a potential buyer for the boat this weekend, then he would be spending time at the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival, looking for potential buyers for the house and boat, or investors in the business.

He could not say when he expected to return to New Zealand.

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- Sunday Star Times

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