Ports finally change hands Published: 29 August, 2006
AT least three of Britain’s main fishing ports have finally come under new ownership – and possibly a whole new future.
A consortium led by Goldman Sachs has acquired Associated British Ports in a £2.5-billion deal which has been simmering throughout the summer.
ABP shares were de-listed from the London Stock Exchange several days ago, 23 years after the company was created following the privatisation of the old British Transport Docks Board.
ABP has several money spinning ports within its portfolio including Southampton, Immingham on Humberside and a major importer of fish from Iceland and the Faroe Islands and the commercial port of Hull.
But it also owns Grimsby Fish Docks, and the key fishing and ferry port of Troon in Scotland which is advertised as a one stop shop for the fishing industry. It was also home to Scotland’s first electronic fish market and the first to satisfy new EU regulations.
The Grimsby fish industry will also be keen to find out what the new owners are planning because the of a proposed £10-million regeneration plan which promises a new fish market along with a modern new fish processing business park.
The scheme was launched following the publication of a major consultancy report which identified a large area of fish dock land near the giant Celsius cold store for redevelopment. The hope is that the new owners will offer the land to merchants on favourable long lease terms or sell it to the industry. So far neither ABP or Goldman Sachs have commented on their plans for fishing ports like Grimsby, Lowestoft and Troon. Some observers believe they may sell off the small ports and invest the money on the more profitable centres like Immingham.
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