ABP Acquisitions UK Ltd (ABPA), intermediate parent company to Associated British Ports (ABP), has signed a £70m loan facility with the European Investment Bank to part fund part further development at the UK’s second largest container terminal at the Port of Southampton.
The investment is ABP’s response to the introduction of ultra large container ships by major shipping lines, principally operating on the key Far East to North Europe routes, according to a company statement.
The project will include work to deepen and widen the channel to the container terminal, upgrade berths and install new gantry cranes.
ABPA has also completed the early refinancing of £850m of bank debt, arranged at the time of the group’s main refinancing in December 2011 and originally due to be repaid in December 2014. Other loans are due in December 2016 and December 2018.
“At the time of our inaugural bond issue in December 2011, we stated that we would refinance this £850m facility, ABP’s largest and shortest, within 18 months. We have now achieved this,” said Sebastian Bull, ABP group chief financial officer.
“We are also delighted that the EIB is supporting the continued development of the Port of Southampton, which is a leading gateway for the UK’s container trade and uniquely gives global reach for the UK cruise and car export trades.”
“Increased global trade handled by larger ships built for the widened Panama Canal provides significant opportunities for regional economic development in a new era of logistics,” added Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank vice president.
The project is included in the UK Government’s National Infrastructure Plan and is hoped will cement Southampton’s role as a key international gateway.
It is estimated the port of Southampton directly and indirectly supports around 15,000 jobs regionally and more than 21,000 jobs nationally.