New UK container hub planned

New UK container hub planned

LONDON -- PD Ports, Britain's second-largest ports operator, said it will use the proceeds from an initial public offering to develop a major global container hub at Tees Port in northeast England.

Stewart Collins, a London stock broker, will list PD Ports shares on London's Alternative Investment Market on Monday after it acquired the group from Nikko Principal Investments, a Japanese private equity investor, in a deal valued at $833 million.

The stock market flotation is expected to raise $320 million.

Graham Roberts, managing director of PD Ports, said the fresh capital would allow the company to finance an expansion of container traffic at Tees Port, which mainly handles bulk. The aim is to attract the 1.2 million TEUs of containers destined for the north of England that pass through the southern ports of Southampton, Felixstowe and London Tilbury every year.

PD Ports is evaluating plans to transform Tees Port, Europe's tenth-largest port, into a northern container gateway following the government's recent rejection of plans by ABP, the UK's leading ports group, to build a new box hub in Southampton.

As part of the takeover agreement Collins Stewart, which fended off rival bids from Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, the operator of the port of Liverpool, and Forth Ports, is assuming $535 million of debt.