Mersey Docks soars on CVC bid approach

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The Independent Online

Shares in Mersey Docks & Harbour jumped 10 per cent yesterday after the ports operator disclosed that it had received a takeover approach from a private equity firm, understood to be CVC Capital Partners.

Shares in Mersey Docks & Harbour jumped 10 per cent yesterday after the ports operator disclosed that it had received a takeover approach from a private equity firm, understood to be CVC Capital Partners.

The announcement sent the company's shares up 82p to close at 917p, valuing the operator of the Port of Liverpool and Medway Port at £716m.

CVC was one of the unsuccessful bidders when PD Ports, the operator of Teesport, was put up for auction earlier this year by its Japanese owner Nikko. Other private equity houses including Duke Street Capital, Royal Bank Development Capital and JP Morgan & Partners also showed an interest in PD Ports and may now join the scramble for Mersey Docks.

The company's share price has been rising in recent days amid speculation that Peel Holdings, the transport and property group that owns the Manchester Ship Canal, might be lining up a bid for the business. Peel lifted its shareholding in Mersey Docks last week from 8.15 to 9.25 per cent.

Mersey Docks described the approach from the private equity house as "preliminary", adding that there could be no assurance that an offer would be forthcoming.

In September the company, which also owns port facilities in Heysham, Lancashire and Dublin, reported a 6 per cent rise in interim pre-tax profits to £28.7m and a £40m share buy-back.

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