Did you hear? Wightlink has changed owners again

Of course we all remember when Australian Investment Bank Macquarie sold Wightlink two years back – but did you hear that their owners have changed hands again? It’s taken some digging, but here’s what OnTheWight has found out.

Wightlink ferry with 'sold?' overlay

There has been some confusion circulating recently over whether Wightlink has new owners.

Back in 2015, Wightlink was bought by Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP from Australian investment bank, Macquarie.

Just over a year later Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP underwent a management buyout by Rob Gregor (pictured), Steven Lowry and Jeff Neil and the organisation was re-branded as Basalt Infrastructure Partners LLP (Basalt).

At the same time, it was reported that investment management firm Wafra Investment Advisory Group Inc. had bought the 100% interest in Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP.

Wafra “one of the man investors”
Rob Gregor, the Managing Partner at Basalt, confirmed to OnTheWight,

“Wafra is one of many investors in our Fund, after buying the Fund investment from Balfour Beatty.

“The Fund (Basalt Infrastructure Partners I LP) which we manage on behalf of our investors, holds the Wightlink investment.”

To confirm, Wightlink Ferries, who was previously owned by Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP, is now owned by the re-branded fund, Basalt Infrastructure Partners I LP. The Fund is being run by the same Fund Managers as before.

As a reminder, during the sale in 2015, Wightlink stated there would be no changes to staffing, pricing, routes or schedules as a result of the change of ownership.

Image: seattlecamera under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 2nd February, 2017 12:22pm

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ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2eY9

Filed under: Ferry, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Travel

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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35 Comments on "Did you hear? Wightlink has changed owners again"

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Vix Lowthion
We wouldn’t expect our prisons, our NHS, our schools to be run by profit making companies. Oh…. but they increasingly are. So we as an island are left with our essential transport links run to provide profits for Investment Funds, and not run to provide a fair, frequent and efficient service to the community. Why do we just accept this? Because we’ve been led to believe it’s… Read more »
Potentate

In Green la-la land everything can be afforded, the government can fund anything and everything, including free ferries, but excepting weapons, which are bad.

Oh, and diesel cars, which are also bad, just like Brexit and the Trump, also bad.

Steve Goodman
In non-Green la-la land everything finite and fragile can be treated as infinite and breakable, and with public money governments can afford to fund a lot of bad things (including very expensive weapons like the Trident missiles that we now know cannot be relied upon to go where they are supposed to, and which we should hope won’t ever achieve their potential anyway because that is very… Read more »
Caconym
I hear on the news this morning that the Government is to introduce a “scrappage” scheme for diesel cars. The public were persuaded to buy diesel because diesel engines have lower CO2 emissions compared to petrol engines, but this did not take into account the effect of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulates. Small (< 1 litre) turbocharged petrol engines are now almost as economical… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Where did anyone say ferries should be free? Just a model of funding where the community pays way over the odds for a ferry ticket in order to fund profits for already rich investors – doesn’t seem particularly fair or particularly efficient really. The high ferry prices don’t go back into new ferries, subsidised tickets for islanders and more comprehensive service. They go into the pockets of… Read more »
Jess

But those investors may well be your pension fund. Infrastructure is key investment class for such funds,

With respect, Vix, your analysis is a little simplistic.

I agree that privatisation has, generally, gone a step too far. Govt needs to step up and look at the practical experience rather than being a slave to the market,

Steve Goodman

Cannot – should not – pensions be funded more ethically than by overcharging for essential sea transport links (or, I’m reminded, be plundered for a small fleet of luxurious BHS boss boats), when other options (including infrastructure investments) are available?

Vix Lowthion
It has to be simplistic in order to be clear. Investment funds owning and running essential infrastructure with no alternative choices (eg our car ferries , privately run tunnel) run for maximum profit. This excess is paid for by much higher tickets by us. Other infrastructure with tolls – bridges for instance – which are not owned by investment funds don’t have these excessive ticket prices and… Read more »
tr
I keep saying it Vix, but I’ll say it again – go and lobby for this island to be declared an island, and not estuarial – go and lobby for our transport to said island to be considered as public transport – then the ferry companies will be supported and the huge berthing fees will be reduced, ergo, our prices will come down! nothing to do with… Read more »
Steve Goodman

?

Go and get us the proof needed for that last less than convincing sentence please.

Josh Sheekey
My theory is this that Wightlink might follow in Red Funnels steps and take a leaf out of their book. For example running up to 4 ships on the Fishbourne route whilst it provides a 30 minute half hour frequency of service during the summer, on the other hand it causes the ferries to stack up trying to get into port when the ferries are delayed especially… Read more »
Potentate

Bad news continues, it’s a financial instrument disguised as a ferry business.

Steve Goodman

Why run an essential transport link as a good value for money not for profit service, when it can be run as a more expensive moneymaker for an investment fund?

Tim

Interesting that Wightlink have told me that they intend to cut sailings to the most popular times when their new ferry comes into service.

newpower

Build a Bridge and we wouldnt have to worry about the ferry.

Steve Goodman
But then would we have to worry about other things, like who will pay to build it, and how, and who will pay to operate and maintain it, and how, and how might it affect the present ecosystem and shipping movements, and will it be a good value transport link or another greedy rip off opportunity for an investment fund, with or without politician’s help to transfer… Read more »
Tim

I think that Skye still has a seasonal ferry service for tourists.

Wightlink and Red Funnel claim that they only make a profit during the Summer months so it does make you wonder if this might be the best option.

Jess

Thirty one years ago when I started training as an accountant, one of the first lectures was “definition of profit” – there are a number of ways of looking at it, and this gets expolotied by financial PR.

Unless the ferry companies can be tied down as to how they define profit then their claims are meaningless.

Tim

Ian,

With various IWC and other public documents highlighting isolation issues as contributing to the island’s ills there needs to be discussions held on all possible options to resolve matters.

The worst option by far would be to treat cross Solent connectivity as a taboo subject.

Colin
@ Tim I think you will find that the Armadale/Mallaig route is a daily fully fledged ferry service at the south of Skye run by Calmac. Subsidised by the Scottish government (and indirectly by the rest of us) it is a similar time and length of the crossing to the Yarmouth route and costs £9.40 for a car and £2.80 per person any day, any time. The… Read more »
Tim
Colin, I didn’t mention any bridge. What I was really attempting to do was address the issue that Steve raised about whether the ferries would continue in the event of an alternative more convenient Solent crossing being available. Skye was an obvious comparison, thanks for filling in the details for me. The RET no doubt has its merits, and is an issue amongst others that I have… Read more »
Colin
@ Tim. I realise this. I was just highlighting the three crossings from the mainland to Skye.There are other ferries from Skye to other Islands, And the population is only around 10,000. Unfortunately, the IW routes are a cash cow and no politician is going to alter that. The time for protest should have been when Sealink was split off from the rail network but of course… Read more »
Tim

Colin, I agree.

A glaring omission from the rail privatisation was the lack of any regulatory regime being put in place for the ferries.

Ian Young
Robust regulation was the missing element in many of the major privatisations. A strong regulator, with the appropriate powers and remit can, and should, have a major influence over Private Sector companies who are operating in near monopoly situations or in arrears where the public interest is paramount. If you are ideology wedded to the concept of state ownership then regulation might not be the way forward… Read more »
beacher
Vix, it’s always easy to say the money goes into people’s pockets 100’s of miles away….but where do you think the money comes from that these investments funds invest…it may well have come from your pension fund, Seeking to get some sort of return on their money to pay your and my pensions…and yes some people make an obscene amount of money along the way, far in… Read more »
Potentate

Green’s don’t need practical solutions, they’re a protest group who demonise the elusive rich. Pension funds are too real world for their fake news policy solutions.

Steve Goodman
? Greens generally seem to see the urgent need for practical solutions to the serious problems caused by not being ‘green’ with our finite resources, and are certainly entitled to protest in reaction to the suicidal harm being done to all of us by less enlightened groups, including any irresponsible people, whatever the size of their wallets, who demonise themselves. And many Greens are wise pensioners only… Read more »
Roydini

The ferry service to the Isle of Wight is an essential piece of the U.K. Infrastructure. It should no more be privately owned than the M25!
Maybe we should get the 100000 signatures needed to debate this on parliament

Maastricht

People moan about the ferry fares but a petition that ended just a year ago to regulate them raised less than 5,000 signatures.

There are 110,000 people of voting age living on the island. Where were all the signatures?

Tim

Where has the support for the “fix the ferries” campaign gone?

It seems to have disappeared without trace.

RIta

I didn’t know this campaign existed and I watch, listen to radio and take notice. Perhaps the publicity for this needed a higher profile and a bit more persistence. One blast is never enough and not everyone is online or on social network. For people to respond a campaign needs to continually capture their attention. Never give up

Tim

Apparently various ferry users groups as well as “fix the ferries” have been around for a number of years now, during this time there have been service cuts and above inflation fare rises.

It doesn’t matter how much the public protest, the ferry companies just take no notice, but why should they?

They are after all private concerns in a very comfortable trading environment.

electrickery
I love Tim’s phrase “a very comfortable trading environment”; ain’t it, though? Clearly WL is a highly tradable item, people don’t buy and sell things without a value. Face the facts, folks, we are going to get NO HELP FROM GOVERNMENT in this (are we, Andrew?) so it’s down to us. Does anyone know what WL changed hands for the last two occasions? Divide it between 140,000… Read more »
dave

So someone has worked out that when the new ferries are operating there will be a reduction in service. Yet we were told there would be more crossings when passengers needed them. What a con – roll on the fixed link.

Tim

Dave, no working it out was needed, I queried it with Wightlink’s PR dept. I have it in writing.