AND so Forth Ports, Britain’s last public ports company, is to be sold off, following in the footsteps of P&O, Associated British Ports, Mersey Docks and Harbour, and PD Ports. Bad news for the nostalgic, but a good deal for shareholders and proof that insistence really does pay off.
Arcus European Infrastructure Fund first made an approach for Forth Ports as part of a consortium of investors that offered £14 a share in May 2010, which was swiftly rebuffed. Yesterday’s offer – a total of £16.50 including a 20p dividend – is likely the highest shareholders could have hoped for.
The 8.3 per cent premium to the pre-bid closing price might seem a little measly at first glance. But Forth’s shares had a good run in the month prior to the bid – rising some 14 per cent – as talk of a deal got round. At any rate, it’s the best that shareholders are going to get: with a 22.8 per cent stake, Arcus is unlikely to come up against any notable competition.
For Arcus the deal is a good fit, given that it already has a significant number of infrastructure interests beyond its stake in Forth – including Euroports, the second- largest dry bulk port operator in continental Europe.
This one is all over bar the formalities.