Cargo rise lifts Mersey Docks and Harbour

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The Independent Online
RISING cargo tonnages through the Port of Liverpool have fuelled a 24 per cent rise in 1992 pre-tax profits to pounds 16.4m at the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, writes Robert Cole.

Mersey has benefited during the past three years from a change of policy among ship owners. Shipping lines used to subsidise customer land haulage costs, making it irrelevant where cargoes docked. However, the practice has declined in recent years. Liverpool's location, close to the industrial Midlands and North-west regions, has helped turnover and profitability.

The Port of Liverpool handled 27.8m tonnes last year compared with 24.7m in 1991. About 11m is to a Shell oil terminal at Tranmere and is unchanged, while most of the growth comes from non-oil cargoes between Britain, Ireland and North America.

Bill Slater, the chairman, said the results were achieved against a backdrop of 'on-going difficulties being faced by the international shipping industry'.

Earnings per share were 18p compared to 17p and the total dividend is 7.5p against 6p. Charterhouse Tilney, Mersey's stockbroker, predicts profits of pounds 17.5m this year. The shares rose 10p to 309p.

The Government holds a 20 per cent stake but yesterday Mersey Docks said it had been assured there were no plans to dispose of its shares.

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