Australian-led group buys Teesport owner for £246m

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The Independent Online

PD Ports, the owner of Teesport in north-east England, yesterday became the second UK ports company to fall to a foreign bidder in as many days after accepting a £246m offer from an Australian-led consortium.

Endeavour Ports, which is 84.5 per cent-owned by two Australian fund management groups and 15.5 per cent by the UK's 3i, has agreed to pay 142p per share for PD Ports.

The takeover follows the agreed £3.3bn bid on Tuesday for the ports and ferries group P&O from the oil-rich Emirates company Dubai Ports World.

The price being paid by Endeavour represents a 42 per cent premium to PD Ports' valuation when it was floated again on the London market in July last year and a 26 per cent premium to its price on 18 October, the day before it disclosed that a bid approach had been made.

PD Ports has agreed to pay a break-fee of £3.2m if it accepts a rival bid. Once the deal is complete, its chief executive Graham Roberts will stay on in the role of executive chairman for a year.

The biggest single shareholder in Endeavour is IFM, which already owns stakes in two UK companies - the gas distribution business Wales and West Utilities, and Arqiva, the owner of the UK's main broadcasting transmission towers. The other Australian shareholder is the quoted financial services group Challenger.

Graeme Bevans, a director of Endeavour, said it saw itself as a long-term investor in PD Ports. IFM, which looks after the funds of nine big Australian superannuation schemes, typically holds on to investments for 15 to 20 years, he added.

Mr Bevans also pledged that Endeavour would press ahead with the Northern Gateway project being developed by PD Ports - a £300m scheme to build a new deep sea container terminal on the Tees to serve industry in the North of England. The scheme could create up to 7,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.