A recent front page newspaper report highlighted Tag Yacht’s economic woes. Company director Tim van der Steene gives his version of events.

1)  Can you clarify whether Tag Yachts SA or Tag Yachts 50 SA is in business rescue. Or both?

 TAG YACHTS SA is in Business Rescue and TAG Yachts 50 is in Liquidation

2) Why did the company / companies file for business rescue? What went wrong (in a nutshell)?

TAG yachts SA was threatened by two key parties after months of negotiation to be put in liquidation to jeopardise all involved. Business Rescue was deemed the fairest means to deal with the situation.

3) Can you clarify which matters are currently before court? The recent newspaper court talks of three applications currently before the PE High Court: all brought by different investors / clients. Is this correct? Where do things stand currently with regard to these matters?

It is unclear to me as I have not been informed.

4) When did things first start to unravel?

When things took longer than expected and when key parties changed the business plan. This caused a snowball effect which the company could not sustain.

5) The newspaper report names one investor as Sultan Ahmed Ghunoum Al-Hameli. He came on board as both client and investor, and paid an initial deposit of around R200 000 for a Tag 50. Is this correct? How did you meet him?

This was his initial deposit to secure a build slot. I met him at the Cannes Boat Show

6) According to the newspaper report Al-Hameli claimed to have commissioned a forensic report into what went wrong.  Is there a forensic report and did it find evidence that funds were not ring-fenced for specific projects?

No evidence has been presented to me.

7) Al-Hameli also allegedly appointed a chartered accountant who alleged that funds loaned to Tag Yachts 50 SA were transferred to Tag Yachts SA. Were these payments made? Were they authorised?

All payments to my knowledge were for business purposes. I have no knowledge of any payments for purposes otherwise.

8) The Weekend Post report also names three other clients – an Australian couple, an Argentine businessman and a Swiss private equity adviser. These people all allegedly paid deposits. What has happened to their money and to the yachts they were supposed to receive?

They all cancelled their contracts with TAG Yachts when the business went into rescue and took matters into their own hands.

9) Are you confident their boats will be finished?

Two yachts were finished by the clients re-contracting ex TAG Staff.

10) Al-Hameli reportedly bought the moulds (for TAG 50?) and had them destroyed. Is this correct and was he entitled to do so?

I have not received any communication with regards to the above. My understanding is that Sultan professed to being able to manufacture the TAG50 in Abu Dhabi at 50% of the cost to SA so I assume he is in the process of doing so.

11) The liquidator has reportedly convened an inquiry into Tag Yachts 50 SA. Is this correct and have you been served with a subpoena? Where do things stand?

I have not received any notice nor know where things stand

12) Where to from here? Is there any way back? Are the clients’ projects / boats literally dead in the water?

The clients cancelled their projects when the company went into rescue and thereby scuttled any hope of the rescue following the original plan of getting new investors and projects into the business. Two of the clients continued and completed their projects by re-contracting staff.

13) All of this doesn’t look good for brand SA, particularly in light of some other high-profile bankruptcies in years gone by. You have been a brand ambassador and part of SABBEX. How does this make you feel? Has this matter been blown out of proportion?

I am saddened by the outcome of firstly TAG Yachts and secondly for the SA Boatbuilding Industry. Yes I dedicated several years of my life to help benefit the Boatbuilding Industry but also in hope that it would benefit South Africa as a whole.

“Has it been blown out of proportion?” No I don’t think so. Is it a sign of a combination of factors.

There are no happy parties in this situation.

14) How much of this has to do with prevailing market conditions?

We did not have a lack of interest. The fact that we got 3 buyers up front was great. The marketing team had  another 5-10 buyers lined up waiting for the first yacht to launch. So no I don’t think the market conditions affected the final outcome.

15) Finally, where do things now stand with Al-Hameli.

No idea. Zero Communication

16) Any additional info you feel might be relevant.

Ultimately it was a team effort from all parties that lead to the current situation. Offers were made, solutions proposed but they were not accepted by keys parties. The company tried to negotiate solutions for a good 12 months whilst trying to complete projects which if targets had been met would have resulted in a different outcome.

I deny wrong doing on my part as alleged or at all.

The disputes between parties ought to be adjudicated upon pursuant to due process of law. My rights with regard to damages which may be suffered by me pursuant to the publication of defamatory allegations shall remain reserved.

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