New owners for Steam Packet

THE Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has changed hands following a refinancing.

The business, which runs services from Douglas to Merseyside, Lancashire and Ireland, was previously owned by the Australian Macquarie Bank which bought it for £225m in 2005.

But in a brief statement the company said a new group of banks led by one of Portugal’s biggest, Banco Espirito Santo, was now in control.

“The share capital of the company previously owned by a number of Australian pension funds and Macquarie has been transferred instead to Sealion (Isle of Man) Ltd, a company owned by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s banks. As of 8th April 2011, the previous owners have no ongoing financial interest in the company,” said the company.

It added: “The refinancing arrangement provides a long-term commitment from the new owners. The Steam Packet Company can now move forward on a stable footing enabling the Island-based management team to focus on delivering frequent, reliable, value-for-money services to both freight customers and passengers.”

The company stressed the change will not affect services but there were “small scale” redundancies and a reorganisation at the start of the year to, “reflect the current commercial circumstances under which the company is operating”.

It said the new owners were focused on providing a long-term solution to allow the company to operate in a stable financial environment and have put in place long-term debt arrangements.