Teesport operator makes return to market with £455m deal

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The Independent Online

Powell Duffryn, the ports operator which was taken private four years ago, is returning to the stock market through a share offer valuing the business at £455m.

The flotation on AIM of PD Ports as it is now known will also mark the stock market return of Railtrack's former finance director and chief executive David Harding, who becomes chairman of the company. The owner of PD Ports, the Japanese investment bank Nikko, has agreed to an accelerated IPO organised by the broker Collins Stewart which will see it list on AIM next Monday. The deal puts a stock market value of £175m on PD Ports, which owns Teesport in north-east England, the UK's second biggest port and the 10th largest in Europe. The company also has securitised debt of £292m, giving it an enterprise value of £455m.

Nikko Principal Investments bought Powell Duffryn for £507m in 2000 and has since raised £200m by selling off its engineering businesses. It will make an estimated £160m-£200m profit from the sale of the ports business. The bank has agreed to retain a 29.9 per cent shareholding in PD Ports for a minimum of six months following the AIM listing.

Graham Roberts, who was brought in as chief executive of PD Ports two years ago, said the main aims would be to increase Teesport's share of the container market and develop surplus property at its Hartlepool facility. This includes a 131 hectare site in the old north docks, which is being redeveloped for mixed urban use.

Mr Roberts said an estimated 1.2 million containers destined for the North of England came into the country through the southern ports of Felixstowe, Southampton and Tilbury and his aim was to snatch as much of this business as possible.

He added that the company's intention was to move to a full stock market listing within a year. The only reason for moving to AIM first was the sheer speed with which the listing took place. This is the latest in a series of accelerated IPOs engineered by Collins Stewart. The others were Northumbrian Water and Center Parcs.

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