Infratil sells Fullers Ferries for $40m to plug debt

An infrastructure fund offloads a stake in a New Zealand ferry operator as it tries to reduce its debts

A New Zealand infrastructure investor has agreed to sell a New Zealand ferry company to a direct competitor to its coach businesses in the region as it tries to flatten its debt mountain.

Infratil, owner of Fullers coach services, is selling Auckland-based Fullers Ferries to Souter Holdings for NZ$40 million (€21 million; $28 million).

“It wasn't a great price but I think it was a fair price,” Infratil senior manager Tim Brown told journalists.

Souter is run by Brian Souter, chief executive of Stagecoach bus services (which sold the boat operator to Infratil three years ago, along with its bus operations in New Zealand). He is also part owner of Mana Coaches, another New Zealand coach company which competes directly with Infratil’s remaining New Zealand businesses.

Infratil bought some of Stagecoach New Zealand’s bus and ferry companies in 2005 for a premium $253 million. It sold Fullers Ferries to help plug Infratil’s NZ$1.2 billion debt hole, according to the New Zealand Herald, after the ferry operator requested more funding from the Auckland Regional Transport Authority this March.