More port operators for Babcock and Brown

Babcock & Brown Infrastructure (BBI) has spent $144 million buying another two European concession port operators, this time in Finland, adding to four similar purchases in Italy, Belgium and Spain.

Concession ports sit on land leased from other owners and make up the bulk of port operations in Europe.

BBI has now spent about $1 billion on them in the last 12 months and says it is likely to buy more.

“To some extent this might have snuck up on people,” says BBI chief operating officer, transport Jeff Pollock.

“There’s actually quite a lot invested in this strategy now and hopefully people will start to see that there are real opportunities for us.”

BBI now controls five European concession port companies with operating concessions in eleven ports throughout Europe.

They are forecast to produce combined pre-tax earnings in fiscal 2008 of euro 62.4 million ($A98.6 million).

As with its previous purchases, BBI said on Friday that the acquisitions of Finnish operators Oy Rauma Stevedoring and Oy Botnia Shipping would be immediately yield accretive.

Their combined 2007 pre-tax earnings were EUR8.5 million ($A13.4 million).

Rauma is the third largest container terminal in Finland and both ports handle over 10 per cent of Finnish maritime trades.

Most of the material loaded at them is forestry related because BBI bought the ports from forestry company UPM, which has promised to keep moving its paper, label materials and wood products through the ports.

Pollock says the lastest deal was one of “several” port acqusition opportunities in a pipeline being considered by BBI.

BBI is managed by Australia’s second biggest investment bank Babcock & Brown Ltd.

Source: Industry Search

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