GIP seeking buyer for Great Yarmouth Port

After eight years of owning the British sea port through its portfolio company IPH, the New York-based fund manager is looking to realise its investment.

Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) has enlisted the help of financial advisor Hillbrook Partners as it seeks a buyer for Great Yarmouth Port (GYP), located on the east coast of England and serving as the principal port for the offshore energy industry in the Southern North Sea, a source told Infrastructure Investor.

GIP acquired the asset when it bought International Port Holdings (IPH) in May 2007, a company that had emerged as the preferred bidder for the port the previous year. GIP realised the acquisition through Global Infrastructure Partners I, its $5.64 billion debut fund that closed in May 2008.

Under the terms of the agreement, commercial and statutory port functions were transferred from the Great Yarmouth Port Authority (GYPA) to IPH’s subsidiary Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC), which trades as Eastport UK, under a 99-year lease. In exchange, IPH would invest in constructing Great Yarmouth’s Outer Harbour.

According to Eastport UK’s website, the Outer Harbour has a 150 metre-wide entrance, 875 metres of quay space, 36 hectares of land potential and an enclosed facility with round-the-clock security.

“GIP has overseen this development of a new, deep water outer harbour at GYP that complements the facility’s existing river port,” GIP states on its website. “The expansion has substantially enhanced the port’s capacity and enabled the servicing of larger ships and a greater range of trades and commodities.”

Reportedly, the construction of the Outer Harbour, which was completed in 2010, cost £80 million. According to a 2011 report released by the director of environment, transport and development of the Norfolk government, the public sector contributed £17.9 million to the project.

A statutory trust port, GYPA has no owner and is independent of local authorities. It privatised the port under the Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour Act 1985.

GIP declined to comment. Hillbrook Partners did not respond to a request for comment.

GIP currently has two other ports in its portfolio: Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), the world’s sixth-largest container terminal operator; and International Trade Logistics (ITL), an integrated port and logistics business in Argentina.

The fund manager also owned an interest in the Port of Brisbane, an investment it exited in 2013.