The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company would like to announce that following the successful refinancing of the business by a group of banks led by Banco Espirito Santo, a new ownership structure is now in place.
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.
A new corporate structure will subsequently be put in place that will simplify the current tiered multi-level structure of the organisation.
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.
What will this change in ownership mean for the Isle of Man?
The new owners, in the form of the bank group, have worked with the business since 2005 and remain committed to the ongoing successful operation of the business. The Steam Packet Company will therefore continue to provide the lifeline freight and passenger services secured under the User Agreement with Government.
Will services be affected?
A review of operations was undertaken in late 2010/early 2011 taking into account the effect upon the business of increased Mezeron competition. At that time it was announced that Snaefell would be withdrawn from the operational fleet and that fast craft services would be provided exclusively by Manannan. Manannan provides passengers with greater levels of comfort and sea-keeping abilities. The exclusive use of Manannan instead of the smaller Snaefell also means that capacity on all routes has increased. The Ben-my-Chree will continue with her reliable twice-daily service.
It is not envisaged that there will be further alterations to services as a result of the change of ownership.
Will the User Agreement still be in place?
The User Agreement will remain in force. Its benefit to passengers has been clearly demonstrated in recent months as it has safeguarded frequent value-for-money passenger and freight services.
What has happened to Macquarie/other shareholders?
Macquarie and the Australian pension funds are no longer shareholders in the business, their shareholdings having been transferred to the new owners. They have no further financial interest in the business.
Will there be redundancies or pay cuts?
There was some small scale redundancy and reorganisation at the start of the year to reflect the current commercial circumstances under which the Company is operating.
Will the new owners be trying to cut back even more on services and raise prices to increase profits?
The new owners are a group of banks focused on providing a long-term solution to allow the Company to operate in a stable financial environment. The prices are regulated by the User Agreement and the owners have a vested interest in adherence to the terms of the User Agreement.
Will prices increase?
Prices are regulated by the User Agreement and can only be increased by agreement with the Department of Infrastructure and by Manx RPI each year.
Are the new owners putting the Steam Packet Company up for sale?
The new owners have indicated there is no current intention to sell the Steam Packet Company and have put in place long-term debt arrangements to support the Company and its ongoing operations.