New ABP investors urged to build container port on Humber - CILT(UK)
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New ABP investors urged to build container port on Humber

08 April 2015/Categories: CILT, Industry News

A leading Hull academic has urged a consortium of new investors to bring more container trade to the Humber.

Hermes Infrastructure and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are spending £1.6bn on a 30 per cent stake in dock operator Associated British Ports (ABP).

The acquisition, from former shareholders Goldman Sachs Infrastructure and Prudential subsidiary InfraCapital, follows a fierce bidding war with rivals around the world.

Now Professor Chris Bovis, an international business expert at the University of Hull, has called on the owners to build international trade links.

He said: 'The Canadian-driven investment to ABP might wake up the Humber giant. The Humber needs to internationalise and attract containerised trade.

'It could easily directly compete with established ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, provided the infrastructure is sorted.

'Here is the opportunity for transforming the region – through international trade made available by the Humber ports infrastructure.'

Prof Bovis believes both the Government and European Union would back investment.

British authorities are keen to see a growth in northern imports and exports to balance the South, he said.

University research suggests the estuary could become an international container trade gateway and Prof Bovis would like to see that option explored.

He pointed to strong links with Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic states as evidence of the region's potential.

The academic said a Humber free trade zone, where goods could be landed without paying the usual customs fees, would also help kick-start growth.

Building a major container port would be a massive and expensive undertaking, with costs likely to run into the hundreds of millions of pounds.

It has been considered before under a plan named Quay 2005, which would have seen a terminal built at Alexandra Dock in east Hull.

However, the proposal was replaced with Siemens' £310m offshore wind hub.

When the ABP shares were put on the market last year, Prof Bovis said pension funds were likely to be passive investors rather than bold ones.

He still believes the new shareholders will be 'cautious', but said the Canadian board was 'renowned for influencing strategy of their investments in order to maximise returns' and Hermes focused on 'optimising operational advantages'.

He said: 'The Humber ports could be a very profitable operation for ABP, because of the low cost and competitive environment of the region.'

The two fresh investors have yet to signal their plans for ABP but said they were 'excited' about the deal.

Source: HullDailyMail


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