Provider of services to roll-on-roll-off ferry operators
Situated on the coast of East Anglia, Harwich Port has served traffic between the UK and Holland since 1661.
The principal business of the port is providing services to roll-on-roll-off ferry operators carrying passenger and commercial traffic. Two-thirds of the port's revenues are derived from handling commercial traffic and a third from moving passengers.
At the time of our acquisition of the business a major programme of investment in the port's high speed sea service (HSS) facility was close to completion. This service now operates from Harwich to Hook of Holland and has cut journey times by half.
In 1997, Montagu approached the port's then owners, Stena Line AB, with a view to acquiring the business. The approach to Stena was assisted by the close corporate relationship with HSBC Bank plc's Shipping and Aerospace Division. Once a value had been placed on the business the deal was completed at the headline price agreed in the heads of terms within the exclusivity period of eight weeks. For Montagu the deal represented a further investment in the transport industry and particularly in the port sector following its previous involvement in the Clydeport Management and Employee Buyout and the Management Buyout of Port of Bristol.
In the course of completing the £77 million (€123 million) deal, we introduced other parts of the HSBC Group to the transaction. For example, HSBC Bank was invited to pitch for the senior debt facility and HSBC Gibbs, having tendered for the company's insurance requirements, put together a highly competitive package servicing all the company's insurance needs.
A few months after the acquisition we were approached by a trade buyer and the company was sold within a year of our original investment at an attractive multiple of cost.