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Allianz, EIB back £300m British port expansion

Europe’s busiest port has also received financing from Lloyds and RBS just over four years after its privatisation was blocked by the government.

The UK’s Port of Dover has received a £200 million ($250.9 million; €234.4 million) financing package to fund improvements to its ferry terminals and cargo logistics.

The investment was supported by Allianz Global Investors providing a £55million private placement bond, the European Investment Bank lending £75 million while RBS and Lloyds banking groups both offered the expansion a £35 million revolving credit facility. The total cost of the Dover Western Docks Revival project is £306 million, according to the EIB.

The expansion will develop both the western and eastern ferry terminals at the port and create a purpose-built cargo and logistics facility. According to figures released by the European Commission last week, the Port of Dover is Europe’s busiest passenger port as of the end of 2015, with just over 13 million embarking and disembarking. However, this represented a 2.2 percent year on year decrease.

“The Port of Dover is a unique asset. Given its history and proximity to continental Europe, it is of vital importance to UK trade,” said Adrian Jones, AllianzGI’s UK infrastructure debt portfolio manager. “The port has assembled a cost-effective funding solution that matches the most cost-effective debt product to each maturity bucket – short-term commercial bank debt, medium-term European Investment Bank debt and long-term private placement bonds – thus ensuring it can keep the cost of funding the project as low as possible for its customers.”

In 2010 the Dover Harbour Board made an application for voluntary privatisation, in part to help finance the Western Docks expansion, that would have looked to raise up to £400 million. The move was blocked by the government in 2012 amid fears of foreign ownership. Bob Goldfield, chief executive of the port at the time, said he was “surprised and extremely disappointed” by the decision. Goldfield stepped down from his role six months later.

The investment is the single largest undertaken by its operators, the Dover Harbour Board, since they began running the port in 1606. It handles up to £119 billion of UK trade each year and 17 percent of all the UK’s trade in goods.