Arcus increases UK ports footprint

The owner of Forth Ports – until recently the UK’s last listed ports operator – has acquired ownership of Tilbury Container Services, consolidating its ownership of Tilbury Port. The sellers were DP World and Associated British Ports in a deal worth £95m.

UK ports operator Forth Ports – acquired last year by London-based fund manager Arcus Infrastructure Partners – announced yesterday that it has bought the 67 percent stake it didn’t already own in Tilbury Container Services (TCS), described as “a key shipping and distribution location with unrivalled access to London and the South East of England”.

Forth Ports had been a shareholder in TCS since 1998, alongside DP World and Associated British Ports, which sold their stakes to the Arcus-controlled firm for a combined £95 million (€113 million; $149 million). The acquisition of TCS, located within Tilbury Port, effectively consolidates Forth Ports’ ownership of the port. 

“This is an important acquisition and a major step forward in our plans to grow and develop our ports business,” commented Charles Hammond, Forth Ports’ chief executive. “With 100 percent ownership of TCS we plan to combine our existing Short Sea container terminal with TCS to create a new container business. The combined terminal will handle close to half-a-million containers and makes us the third largest single container operation in the UK,” he added.

TCS handled 314,000 containers last year, a 2.4 percent increase in comparison with 2010, Forth Ports said.  

Arcus acquired Forth Ports last March for £760 million after a lengthy courtship of the UK’s last listed port operator. At one point, Arcus joined forces with Peel Holdings and RREEF Infrastructure in a failed attempt to buy Forth Ports. 

Based in Edinburgh, Forth Ports owns and operates eight UK ports and associated land, including seven ports on Scotland’s east coast, along the Forth Estuary and at Dundee. The firm also owns a recycling business called Nordic.