ABP takeover bid could affect fishing ports Published: 14 June, 2006
ASSOCIATED British Ports has agreed to be taken over in a £2.5billion deal in a move which could have a major impact on at least four fishing ports around the country.
The firm has accepted an offer of 810 pence per share from a consortium led by Goldman Sachs which unsuccessfully tried to buy the British Airports Authority last month. In March ABP rejected a lower bid of 730 pence per share from the same consortium. However, it has now returned with an improved offer which will be recommended to shareholders.
The move is will cause some head scratching at Grimsby because ABP played a key strategic role in helping to draw up a £10million plan to regenerate the fish docks, which proposes a new fish market, and fish processing and food park. ABP are landlords of the dock estate.
Although the plan has been stalled since it was first unveiled in January due to lack of movement by the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, it is still very much on the cards and the Grimsby fishing industry is anxious to get things moving as soon as possible. It is impossible to guess how the new owners will view the plan, but some people believe the takeover could open exciting new possibilities for the merchants and processors especially if it want to sell off less profitable parts of the fish dock estate. “We shall just have to wait and see,” said one industry leader.”There is no reason why the current plan should have to be changed and we hope that local management will be left to take independent decisions as in the past.”
Fishing leaders in Troon, Scotland, a major fishing and ferry port and also owned by ABP will also be keen to see how things develop because ABP advertise the port as a one stop shop for the fishing industry. It was also home to Scotland’s first electronic fish market and the first one which fulfilled EU regulations. And although Lowestoft, another ABP port, has developed more as a gas and oil supply centre in recent years, it still has a modern fish market and processing facilities. The fishing industry in Hull, also owned by ABP, is not thought likely to be affected. ABP owns over 20 ports around the country including Immingham, a large importer of fish from Iceland and the Faroes, and Southampton, Britain’s largest cruise liner port.