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CANADIAN COMPANY BUY 50% OF WIGHTLINK FERRIES


Fiera Infrastructure Inc., a leading global midmarket direct infrastructure investor, has acquired a 50% equity interest in Wightlink from Basalt Infrastructure Partners LLP.

The Canadian company’s investment in the cross-Solent operator will be added to its open-ended global midmarket infrastructure strategy. Fiera Infrastructure has assets under management and commitments of circa $1.6 billion, including an active interest in 29 infrastructure assets – one of which is UK water company Thames Water.

The purchase – for an undisclosed sum – was finalised in May 2019 and announced earlier this month (4th June), although it has not been announced to local media.

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Alina Osorio, President of Fiera Infrastructure, has said:

“We are delighted to be the new owners of the largest cross-Solent ferry operator and remain committed to investing in the business. We believe our investors will benefit from the increased diversification of our portfolio through exposure to the transportation subsector.

“We are also excited to work with the Wightlink management team to continue to deliver a best-in-class transportation service in the UK.”

Keith Greenfield, chief executive of Wightlink, has said in an internal memo:

“A new investor, Fiera Infrastructure, has joined our existing owners Basalt Infrastructure Partners as shareholders of Wightlink, with both funds owning 50 per cent each.

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“Fiera are long term investors and an excellent match for Wightlink, which also has a long term horizon. For everyone working at Wightlink, it is very much business as usual.

“Fiera coming on board at this time is an endorsement of our current strategy and the changes we have made such as the successful introduction of Victoria of Wight. We will continue to focus on safety, service performance and customer experience for our Isle of Wight customers and visitors alike.

“The management team and I are very much looking forward to working with our new and existing shareholders as we plan an exciting future for Wightlink and for our customers.

Basalt will continue to have a 50% equity position in Wightlink. Basalt acquired Wightlink Ferries from Macquarie in 2015 for around £230million.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.

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Steve
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Steve

This asset management company will be looking for returns on their investment so I can see more fare increases in the future.

Mike Devine
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Mike Devine

More multi nationals playing with our mainland link.. its going to get worse not better ! Watch this space….

Daemy
Guest
Daemy

Absolutely!
they claim “We will continue to focus on safety, service performance and customer experience for our Isle of Wight customers”
but in reality, it’s all about making as much money as possible out of us “We believe our investors will benefit from the increased diversification of our portfolio through exposure to the transportation subsector”
it’s never about service, only ever about profit

none given
Guest
none given

The service aspect is provided by the employees on the front line and that is really the only interaction the customer gets with the company. They are at the bottom of the corporate structure and receive the least pay. They will only deliver the service they feel like giving, based on the amount of money the company gives them, in return for the service they provide – you get what you pay for.

Unless wightlink is going to substantially increase the salaries of the front line worker, then the service will be as it is and nothing more. They rely on a lot of goodwill from staff. It is no good saying “get better staff then” as they will demand higher pay, for higher standards of service.

At the corporate level, the company cannot borrow to invest unless it has a certain level of profitability demonstrated to lenders and wightlink does not have the cash to buy new ferries in its kitty. It needs a certain level of “cover” on its loans before it starts to hit covenant breaches and subsequent penalties – lenders can seize the ferries and sell them on the second hand market if they wish to, if wightlink are in breach of covenants and cannot pay – do not expect fare reductions any time soon.

Wigthlink make about £1.4 million a month in profits and the yield to investors will be a fraction of this, probably paid once or twice a year. The loan note holders are probably getting a decent clip in interest payments from wightlink and these loans have probably been sold on, once or twice as well.

The islanders and tourists are the ones paying the interest and dividend payments to investors and lenders – no one else, as all revenue is obtained from customers as it is not a state funded/taxpayer funded enterprise. (If it was then you would be paying higher taxes to cover the cost of running it.)

Daemy
Guest
Daemy

wow,…
so to summerise (if I’ve understood the intent of your essay) “it’s never about service, only ever about profit”
for once I agree with you (I think) 🙂

none given
Guest
none given

pretty much daemy – the company pay as little as possible to the staff, who sell the tickets and load the boats, yet pay themselves far more, for sitting around in the offices sending emails to each other.

it is always about profit, as wightlink is a “for profit” business. It is not a charity or state run, public service.

West Wighter
Guest
West Wighter

Blimmy !!
Get over it!!

Richard Collins
Guest
Richard Collins

How high do the cost have to go up before people see that the only best option going forward is a fixed link. The alternative is an island left empty because no one can afford to live here. The ferry prices already affect more than just travel. Many sellers on eBay refuse to ship to the island where as others charge more. I know people who have lost businesses and sold holiday homes because it costs so much for visitors to come here. Organisers of Bestival said the decision to move it to the mainland was down to the “economics of getting people on to the island”.

none given
Guest
none given

@richardcollins..

The cost of building a fixed link which will run into billions is only likely to come from a consortium of infrastructure funds (those that already own wightlink/red funnel), other infrastructure funds, private equity funds, banks and other institutional lenders. There is no political will to spend that kind of cash on a fixed link to the Isle of Wight, so do not expect government funding from the taxpayer for the whole lot.

These lenders will charge interest on the loans provided to the builders of any link. They will then create an operating company that runs the link and all revenue received goes to paying back the lenders with interest, which will take many, many years. If you think that the cost of using a fixed link will be much different from what is charged for foot passengers on the ferries now, you will be in for a nasty surprise. The cost of using it will be decided by anticipated overall usage, against the expected returns by the investors/lenders and payback time frames. Then there is the costs associated with ongoing maintenance of a link as well.

Wightlink charge £20 day return for one adult foot passenger – £10 each way – you think that the cost of using a fixed link would
be much cheaper – not likely. It is £3.75 each way on the bus to Newport and £17 in a taxi.

No fixed link will happen anytime soon and is unlikely to happen for decades, if at all.

Take a look at the delayed and over budget crossrail project in london for an idea – billions over budget, way behind time. They
expect it to carry half a million people a day – the isle of wight gets a few million trips taken per year across the solent.

Carl Feeney
Guest
Carl Feeney

You need to do some homework sunshine. Get informed. Half a million people each day indeed. Some people really do talk out of their backsides: Try 12,000 vehicular crossings each day which is 2/3,of those along St George’s way each day: The rest of your statement is also completely without base Mr Collins. Totally and utterly daft.

It’s very disappointing to have those with your disregard of information to be able to manipulatively comment on these threads.

Do some homework Richard, get informed:

http://solentfreedomtunnel.co.uk/l5-4-spreadsheet-estimated-tunnel-income-traffic-flow/

none given
Guest
none given

half a milliion pax a day is the crossrail project in london – it is for reference in showing the likelyhood of any fixed link to the island ever happening, based on the significantly less usage that the island can expect.

Read the post feeney.

That solentfreedomtunnel spreadsheet is BS – wild estimations and hardly worth even putting together.

none given
Guest
none given

history is on my side carl feeney.

there is evidence of human settlements on the island going back 4000 years and in all that time, no one has built any bridges or tunnels. Even those who built the london underground or channel tunnel haven’t bothered – why, because it is not economically viable to do so, nor is it wanted by those on the mainland who would have to put up with an entry/exit point.

Not ever going to happen- certainly not in your lifetime.

none given
Guest
none given

There is also no will from any mainland area that will be expected to have the entrance/exit to/from the Isle of wight link in their back yard.

What economical and financial benefit will a mainland town have, from having all that extra traffic in and around its areas?

None is the answer, so they won’t want it.

Look at HS2 – that is just about laying some train tracks on top of existing land (simplified) and that hasn’t even got anywhere yet, because of the arguing, complaining and resistance to it. Some sections approved in 2016, no construction yet and not scheduled to open, at the earliest for another 10 to 15 years, if at all.

Isle of Wight fixed link – – no chance, any time soon.

Don't tell him pike.
Guest
Don't tell him pike.

What a load of double speak cobblers .

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