Wightlink sells to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP – Live coverage

Wightlink, the Isle of Wight ferry company, has just been sold.

Wightlink ferry - sold:

It has been announced this morning that Isle of Wight ferry company, Wightlink, has been sold.

The previous owner, Australian investment bank, Macquarie, has sold Wightlink to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP (BBIP) (read more about BBIP here).

The company was purchased for an undisclosed sum.

Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund bought Wightlink from its previous owner in June 2005 for just over £230m. At the time of the sale, it was reported that the previous owners of Wightlink has £133m of secured loan notes, plus £25m in mezzanine finance.

BBIP LLP Partner Steven Lowry says:

“Wightlink is a strong and stable company with the opportunity to grow and develop in the years to come. We are delighted to be the new owners of the largest cross-Solent ferry operator and are committed to investing in the business, and supporting the management team’s focus on safety and improving customer service.”

Russell Kew says:

“Wightlink has a strong and secure future with its new shareholders, which is good news for the company, our customers and our staff. We look forward to working with BBIP to grow the business in years to come.”

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Image: seattlecamera under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 16th February, 2015 10:01am

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Filed under: Business, 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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48 Comments on "Wightlink sells to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners LLP – Live coverage"

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Highway to Hell

Just looking at BBIP’s website here:

http://www.balfourbeatty.com/index.asp?pageid=82

Note the bit about 70% PPP and 30% Non-PPP….

PPP = something very similar to PFI – I worked on one of their PPP’s till it ran out of money and we all got made redundant.

I guess we wait and see how this plays out.

manda

Not very exciting news for island residents if the level of service and prices aren’t gojng to change. Just another big company that will rip us off… great! :/

davimel

So do we have yet another company that will dump huge debts onto Wightlink (as others have done) and increase prices because they are losing money???.. Keeping the rotten infrastructure, the unreliable service and its other issues will ensure we will see no benefits so business as usual for we Islanders.

Cynic

Is not BBIP (LLP) yet another investment bank operating from an offshore tax haven battening onto the Island? Hyenas usually operate in packs.

ewald
Michael G

Didn’t see that one coming.

Great coverage On The Wight!

I'll Get Flamed

… and so the debt is sold on! Time for a fixed link.

Cynic

…. a state-funded fixed link maybe otherwise plus ça change!

milly

Sold to another big Monopoly … along with its wage slaves.

Tim

Business as usual?
Broken down and unreliable ferries, particularly on YL route, infrequent nighttime sailings and all that aside from the expense.
I’d rather hope that they would dramatically improve on what they have to offer to the island’s community.

Tim Martin

THe same Balfour Beatty as known for the Illusu Dam fiasco, various PFI scams and numerous ‘salt & purges’ of the already dodgy ECGD? Forgive me if I’m not filled with hope….

i would leave the island if i could afford to....

Same Sh*t different company just another company where the money leaves the island then comes back again around 45-60 mins later

castlewez
Milly is about as wrong as she can be – Wightlink pays wages that are well above the industry and IW norms. That. I am afraid, is a fact, Milly. I think we all need to wait and see what Simon and Sally unearth before we can make an informed judgement. One thing puzzles me though. If Wightlink has been for sale for some considerable while, and… Read more »
readNeck

What! Wait and see what Simon and Sally unearth in order to make an informed judgement? No let’s go off half-cocked and give negative ratings to any comments that say different.

mat
Venture capitalists Macquarie were always considering when to sell just as they have done with previous investments who they lumbered with debt. The same was seen with the Isle of Man Steam Packet. Selling from one Monopoly to another raises the question of debt,which Macquarie paid to itself. Keeping the debt and interest means that Macquarie could still be claiming on the added value of the ferry… Read more »
JR Ewing

Oil prices dropping! Where have you been Mat? Obviously not noticed they are on the rise again!

block8

I would be a whole lot more hopeful if the entire management team at Wightlink went as well. They. after all, are the ones responsible for the day to day operations of this awful company.

At the moment we have same broom, different handle.

attrillislander

Interesting news! The Island’s MP wanted the ownership of Wightlink to change, so he must be pleased. Or is Nick Finney now his official spokesman, through the doomed Better Ferry Campaign?

Anyhow let’s give these new owners a chance. They now have the chance to prove themselves and build a reputation. I hope they give Red Funnel a good run for their money…..

hazel wyld

BUSINESS AS USUAL! Lets hope not!!!!!

Oldie

Oh come on. The Fishbourne Portsmouth route is pretty good. The Staff are all nice to we punters. The Only problem is usually the rush hour traffic getting in and out of Portsmouth. The only pain is the practice of restricting multi link bookings when they’ve got loads of spaces still

kittywillow

Yes! What other travel company would get away with taking a large wad of your money for a season ticket up front, then telling you that you couldn’t travel when you want to?

Jonathan

Will they be doing toast again?

davimel

The board of Macquarie are toasting each other as I write this!

attrillislander
Oooh, I spoke too soon! A minute before I posted my comment, our MP has spoken: with a statement with striking similarities to that from the Better Ferry Campaign! Does Carole Dennett now work for both the MP’s office and the Better Ferry Campaign, or are they effectively the same thing? Did they co-ordinate their statements, or just write them at the same time? What does the… Read more »
retired Hack
Andrew Turner’s extract from BBIP’s invstment strategy (1208 above) says its all, and AT is correct to summarise it as “exploiting monopolies”. It is also clear, though, that AT and the Better Ferries Campaign were as much taken by surprise by this as the rest of us – which puts sharply into perspective the value of any talks they’ve been having thus far with Wightlink. Wightlink’s parent… Read more »
attrillislander

Retired Hack makes an interesting point. He considers the current situation will not change without effective competition or statutory regulation. If Turner is so concerned, why will he not back a regulated market i.e. like the train companies etc, where the operators have formal public service obligations in exchange for public investment?

castlewez
Trust the MP to jump aboard his favourite maritime bandwagon. He can bleat as much as he likes but he’s done chuff all in terms of achieving anything positive over cross-Solent travel and now his beloved Better Ferry Campaign has been left beached like some bloated and impotent whale while someone else moved in to acquire Wightlink. Surly any intelligent MP would at least meet the new… Read more »
bigEars
There’s ample room to be cynical. Especially as it’s a surprising diversification out of its normal comfort zone for a company whose core business is construction, civil engineering and property development – until you consider that the Wightlink terminals inhabit some prime real estate both here on the Island and in Portsmouth. Just a thought (Actually, my partner’s. I haven’t the wit to think up such a… Read more »
Cynic

BBIP(investment partnership) is a different company to BB (construction etc)

bigEars

That’s a matter of semantics, Cicero. BB Plc is a highly compartmentalized business for historical reasons. But its core business remains the same, even if some of its subordinate companies exist primarily to provide non-core services to other branches of the company.

Cynic

Tell HRMC it is just a matter of semantics when the Investment arm has its HQ in Guernsey. :-))

bigEars

Pacific & Orient is the ferry company for you Cicero.

rob

Andrew Turner has got it right for once in his life ” they know nothing about ferries”.
That why soon we will see them apply for planning permission for a tunnel.
Then they can write off the lose of buying it against tax.

retired Hack

If I were a Wightlink employee, concerned about health and safety, or my right to belong to a trade union, I would want to read this:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24470436

Cynic

Note that VINCI also appears on that list- I wonder if any IR ex-employees who questioned IR Health & Safety also appeared on the blacklists.

JamesP

Not to mention BB’s failure to maintain the track that led to the Hatfield rail crash. Let’s hope they’ve upped their game since then!

Vanessa Churchman
When I was a County Cllr, P&O moved their cross-channel operation to Dover. At the time I suggested to the CX of Wightlink, and also to our own Council, that they ought to do a deal with Portsmouth City Council and send the ferries up to the international terminal. This would have released the valuable Gunwharf site, stopped the awful traffic jams in the summer when people… Read more »
The Sciolist

For Islander’s, the nightmare continues.

Or, it just got a lot worse.

castlewez

Sciolist – an interesting opinion. But one based on absolutely no fact whatsoever. Do keep these pearls of wisdom coming, won’t you?

The Sciolist
I think mine is a fair point. We seem to have jumped from the Australian frying pan into the fire? The problem with Wightlink has principally been debt. The value in our ferry service to these corporate investment owners is the monopoly, and that is why these funds want to buy. We are a captive market, punters to be squeezed as hard as possible. Unfortunately this sale… Read more »
castlewez
My point is that all you have is an opinion not evidenced by any facts. That is an irrational progression. You suggest we are jumping from frying pan to fire and that there will be no investment – but offer nothing by way of insight or information to justify that. Call me old fashioned but I’ll reserve my opinion until we have some substance to the story.… Read more »
Kev

Will this speed up a fixed link… They know nothing about running ferries and have hopefully bought Wightlink & land either side, to then build a tunnel,because I think they were behind the hind head and channel tunnel.
FIXED LINK!!!!

Wrighty

Ah well same old same old.

I guess we can all thank ourselves lucky it wasn’t the VBG CIC that took over Wightlink, they would have reduced it to one ferry a fortnight, 2 members of staff, 1 dictator and ticket prices similar to a Rolling Stones concert.

Winter Gardens fan

……..or the Hambrough Group – as there would be no ferries for over two years whilst they worked out how to run them!

kenny
I welcome the Wightlink purchase by BBIP if it means investment will be forthcoming to fund replacement of the old ferries on the Fishbourne route. Decisions will need to be taken soon as the older ones have only a few years’ life left in them. Of course, if this was Scotland or one of the European countries, we wouldn’t have to worry as the Government would fund… Read more »
Scoop

NEW FERRIES ON THE WAY! So screams today’s County Press.

Their website now says oops! Er, It’s not true.

How embarassing. Print media eh, no wonder it’s dying.

The Sciolist

Funny, but we all make mistakes.

The story doesn’t have a reporter’s name, nor does the apology. You have to ask, does the editor always spare peoples blushes?

Man in Black

Sounds like a pretty easy mistake to make.

1. Wightlink say they’ll be making big investment in the company.

2. Then tell reporter that three ships are old and need replacing.

3. Reporter concludes new ships will be bought.