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Forth Ports bid sign of improved prospects

Infrastructure fund manager Arcus - Forth Ports largest shareholder - has offered £16.50 per share, valuing the operator at £746m.


The takeover bid marks the second in less than a year; Northstream Consortium’s rejected bid tabled in June 2010 valued the company at just £640m.


Industry pundits are talking up the bid as a sign of improved investor sentiment and a more positive outlook for the global ports industry.


Arcus first approached the UK port operator in 2008 and acquired a 22.8% stake in the company from Babcock and Brown's European Infrastructure fund. It was also one of the parties involved in the failed Northstream consortium bid.


In a statement, Edinburgh-based Forth ports said: “On the basis of this indicative proposal, the board has agreed that Arcus can undertake certain confirmatory due diligence.”


It the bid is successful, Forth Ports will not be alone in the new portfolio; Arcus is heavily involved in infrastructure interests including Euroports, the second- largest dry bulk port operator on continental Europe, as well as train rolling stock companies.


The Arcus proposal values Forth at approximately 29 times expected earnings.
 

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