Peel Ports attracts bids in stake sale process

Liverpool-based Peel Ports Group, the UK’s second largest port operator, has attracted bids for a stake of up to 25% in the group from international funds, according to a Reuters report that cites two sources.

Owners Peel Group, the infrastructure investment company founded by John Whittaker, and DWS, Deutsche Bank’s asset management arm, are selling a combined 20%-25% stake of the port operator — which is valued at around £4 billion — with the help of investment bank Rothschild, according to the Reuters sources. 

Peel Ports, which owns and operates the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal, handles cargo of 70 million tonnes a year, some 15% of total port traffic. 

Dutch pension fund APG, Australian funds Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) and AustralianSuper, and British-based Equitix Investment Management are considering separate proposals for the stake, the sources said.

APG declined to comment. QIC, AustralianSuper and Equitix did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The sale is expected by the end of the year, one of the sources said. 

Peel Group and DWS declined to comment. 

Peel Ports Group and its subsidiaries operate as the Statutory Harbour Authority for the Port of Liverpool, the Manchester Ship Canal, the River Medway, parts of the area along and around the River Clyde, Ardrossan Harbour, Twelve Quays at Birkenhead Docks and Heysham Port.

In addition, the group operates Great Yarmouth Port as an agent of Great Yarmouth Port Authority on a long-term basis. 

The group’s assets form a strategic hub centred on the Irish Sea, with locations in Liverpool, Dublin, Glasgow and along the Manchester Ship Canal.