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Within three months the two leading race boat builders have changed hands. Inspiring Sport Capital became the majority shareholder in CDK Technologies at the end of March, while the Carboman group, owner of Multiplast, was officially acquired on Tuesday June 28 by the HBH group. Who are the new shareholders and what strategies do they intend to put in place?
At the end of March, the investment fund Inspiring Sport Capital, launched by Lucien Boyer, former president of Havas Sport, and Laurent Damiani, who was also involved in the world of sports marketing for years, announced the acquisition of CDK Technologies almost at the same time as the departure of Philippe Facque, who had been managing the yard for almost 30 years. “With Lucien, we worked on the Orma circuit together as Havas Sports took care of the communication. He had since taken a small share in the yard.” says Facque, “When I made the decision to slow down, I started looking for buyers, with one priority: to preserve CDK’s image and its philosophy. It turns out that Lucien had just set up his investment fund around sport, so I naturally turned to him.” Inspiring Sport Capital has thus become the majority shareholder of CDK, Philippe Facque and the daughters of Hubert Desjoyeaux, co-founder of the yard, maintain shares. “Inspiring Sport Capital aims to support players who have a DNA in high level competition and high performance, CDK, whose history and culture I knew, ticked these boxes”, explains Lucien Boyer.
So it is an investment fund for CDK, whilst for for Multiplast it is industrial engineers: the Vannes yard, like the other companies of the Carboman group (Plastinov and Plasteol), was officially acquired on June 28 by the holding company HBH Group which is headed by Jean-Denis Bargibant and Damien Harlé, who will take over the name of Carboman Group. “My decision to sell dates back to July 2019 when I learned of the launch in 2023 of the Ocean Globe Race, a kind of revival of the Whitbread, a race that has always made me dream,” explains Dominique Dubois, who was at the head of the Carboman group since 2009. “I knew that it would be impossible to carry out such a project whilst being so involved with fulfilling the company’s orders, so I started looking for a buyer. One day, the Breton investment fund Epopée Gestion came to see me offering to lend me money to develop the group. I explained to them that what interested me was that they found buyers, they returned three weeks later with Jean-Denis and Damien.”
A new CEO at CDK, Yann Penfornis maintained at Multiplast
Damien Harlé and Jean-Denis Bargibant are two entrepreneurs, childhood friends who bought Ouest Composites in 2017, a company based in Auray specializing in the modelling and manufacture of composite parts for the industrial sector. “We wanted to embark on an external growth strategy, it so happened that we were contacted by Aymeric Le Renard, of Epopée Gestion – and also a Mini 6.50 racer – who had thought of us for the Carboman group,” explains Jean-Denis Bargibant. “We were a little afraid of getting into worlds which were too different from our core industrial business, but in fact, the more we turned the pages of the story of the Carboman group the more we said to ourselves that this had a real meaning, because it really offered us plenty of synergies and development opportunities, but we also because we realized that Dominique had succeeded very well in the diversification at Multiplast. »
The new buyers kept the team in place, maintaining Yann Penfornis in his role as general manager of Multiplast – he has even become a partner in the holding company. At CDK, a change of head has occurred as Philippe Facque has been replaced as general manager by Cyril Abiteboul, a former boss (among others) of the Renault F1 team, surrounded by the two deputy general managers already in office, Yann Dollo and Stéphane Digard. “We went looking for Cyril for his engineering profile first, then because he has experience in very high level competition, and in particular international markets. This can help CDK to enter into a more international universe, beyond its traditional ecosystem,” explains Lucien Boyer.
Diversification or not ?
International development is also part of the development axes of CDK Technologies, a company which, according to the co-founder of Inspiring Sport Capital, “will always be guided by excellence in performance around the world of competition.” He adds: “Around this central pillar, we can combine a certain number of complementary initiatives, in particular for reasons of balancing the cycles. High performance yachting can be interesting, in the sense that we can transfer our high competition know-how to it.” Until now there has been little diversification – offshore racing represents almost all of its activity, so now does CDK have the option to open up into other universes? “That’s one of the possibilities and we are exploring some of them (see below),” replies Lucien Boyer, “but we are more likely to prioritize our race business.”
On their side, the new owners of Multiplast clearly intend to pursue the diversification strategy initiated by Dominique Dubois: “The racing side represents 50% of the company’s activity, we want it to remain important, because that it is a real laboratory and an arena for innovation, we are in a profession which is about both passion and excellence,” says Damien Harlé. “We also have an interesting project around the Carboman 30 (new name for the Class30) for which we have decided to start the tooling on Friday July 1st. On the other markets – aeronautics, defence, industry, space – we are going to strive to cross more into series productions as it is essential because recurrence gives stability. You need a repeatable core business which cushions some of the variations of the historical business of the company around racing and race boats”
This mass production avenue could take on a whole new dimension in the coming years for Multiplast and CDK, both united in working inside a consortium (with Avel Robotics, Lorima, SMM Technologies), based around the Solid Sail/AeolDrive program, which is intended to equip cruise ships built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique rigged with composite sails (manufactured by Multiplast). “We are talking about several liners per year in the coming years, so it will require the construction of an adapted industrial tool”, confirms Jean-Denis Bargibant. “The climate emergency really requires us to be a player in solutions for the hybridization of energy sources on passenger and cargo boats, adds Lucien Boyer. “Our companies are meant to come together when it comes to essential causes.”
Credit Photo : Banque Populaire XI, sur lequel les deux chantiers ont oeuvré (© Jérémie Lecaudey / BPCE)
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