Forth Ports backs £745m takeover bid

FORTH PORTS agreed a deal to sell itself to its largest shareholder yesterday for £745m.

Arcus European Infrastructure Fund will take control of the business – which owns docks and development property at Leith, Grangemouth, Dundee and Tilbury near London – subject to shareholder approval. Arcus already owns 22.8 per cent of the firm.

The offer values Forth Ports at £16.30 a share, plus an additional final dividend of 20p per share.

David Richardson, chairman of Forth Ports, said: “The Arcus offer gives Forth Ports shareholders the opportunity to realise their investment for cash at a fair price.”

Last year Forth Ports fought off three takeover attempts by the Northsteam consortium, made up of Arcus, and two fellow infrastructure investors, Deutsche Bank’s RREEF unit and the Peel Group. These bids ranged from £12.85 to £14 per share.

Forth Port’s shares closed up 1.3 per cent yesterday at £16.34p.

Forth Ports, led by chief executive Charles Hammond, also owns a huge bank of land in Leith on Edinburgh’s waterfront. It had planned to turn the land into Edinburgh’s largest new development since construction of the Georgian New Town Area. However, this development has stalled since the downturn. A person familiar with Arcus’ plans said it was likely to accelerate asset sales – Forth Ports owns 2,000 acres of freehold land.