Forth Ports acquired full ownership of Tilbury Container Services, paying $147 million for the remaining 67 percent share of the London container terminal.
Otter Port Holdings, the owner of the Scottish ports operator, bought out Dubai-based DP World and Associated British Ports, which have been joint shareholders with Forth since 1998. The acquisition underpins Forth Ports “port centric strategy” said Charles Hammond, chief executive of the Edinburgh-based company.
“This is an important acquisition and a major step forward in our plans to grow and develop our ports business.”
TCS, located on the River Thames within the port of Tilbury, handled 314,000 20-foot equivalent units in 2011, an increase of 2.4 percent on the previous year Forth plans to merge TCS with its short sea terminal, which handled 126,000 TEUs in 2011, to create a new container business branded London Container Terminal.
“The combined terminal will handle close to half a million containers [annually] and makes us the third largest single container operation in the U.K. and one of the few U.K. ports servicing both deep sea and short sea customers,” Hammond said.
The deal comes a day after Forth, which previously was expanding its real estate portfolio, announced the sale of its flagship Ocean Terminal shopping mall in Leith, Scotland. Forth said its plans to use the proceeds, reported to be around $150 million, to invest further in the port sector.
Otter Ports, a unit of Arcus European Infrastructure, took control of Forth Ports in March, paying $1.2 billion for the 77.2 percent of the shares it did not already own. Forth also operates six ports in Scotland, including box hub Grangemouth. Arcus is a major shareholder in Luxembourg-based Euroports, Europe’s second largest operator of break bulk cargo terminals.
DP World has a 51 percent stake in the DP World Southampton terminal and will inaugurate the first phase of the 3.5 million TEUs-a-year London Gateway terminal on the River Thames in 2013. Associated British Ports is the U.K.’s largest ports operator with 21 ports accounting for around a quarter of the country’s seaborne traffic.
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