Investment companies Australian Super, Global Infrastructure Partners and APG are set to buy DWS’s 37.4% stake in the Liverpool-based group, pending regulatory review.
DWS was the second-largest shareholder in Peel Ports, with Peel Group maintaining a majority 37.6% stake.
Expected to close in 2022, the DWS sale will see Australian Super growing its 25% stake in the company to replace DWS as the second-largest shareholder with Peel Ports.
Peel Ports handles around 66m tons of cargo across seven ports and operates as the statutory harbour authority for the Port of Liverpool, Manchester Ship Canal and River Medway. In Liverpool, it operates two container terminals: the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal and Liverpool2.
Mark Whitworth, chief executive officer of Peel Ports Group, expressed optimism on working with the new shareholders and thanked DWS for their involvement in the company over the past years.
“The ambitious partnership between shareholders and management has been a cornerstone of the company’s success and we look forward to building on those achievements with our new like-minded shareholders APG & GIP, alongside The Peel Group and AustralianSuper,” Whitworth said. “I would like to thank DWS for their support, expertise and long-term vision that’s helped shape this highly successful business.”
The new investment partners shared their enthusiasm for the deal.
Patrick Kanters, managing director real assets at APG, said: “The investment in Peel Ports, on behalf of our pension fund clients, represents an attractive opportunity to gain access to a high-quality, robust infrastructure asset with promising long-term growth potential.”
Michael McGhee, partner at Global Infrastructure Partners, said: “GIP has deep experience and a strong track record of investing in and driving value from landlord ports.
“We regard Peel Ports as the premier landlord port company in the UK and a leader in the private ownership model for landlord ports globally,” he continued. “Peel Ports has a demonstrated track record of investing to support its customers’ businesses and of clear commercial decision making to deliver certainty to supply chain participants in the UK over many years.
“We look forward to working with management to help deliver further growth as well as efficiencies to its customers and the wider UK logistics market.”
Nik Kemp, AustralianSuper head of infrastructure, said: “Generating the opportunity to increase our ownership interest in Peel Ports to be the largest shareholder behind The Peel Group highlights the fund’s desire to acquire high-quality infrastructure assets as we aim to continue to grow the portfolio materially in the years ahead.
“Peel Ports is a high-quality infrastructure asset that has proven to be a resilient investment and continues to contribute positively to the retirement savings of our members,” Kemp continued. “We look forward to Peel Ports leveraging its strong customer relationships, strategic locations and deep logistics management expertise to capitalise on new opportunities emerging from the favourable economic outlook and expansion of global trade.”
As for DWS, head of infrastructure Hamish Mackenzie said that Peel Ports had outperformed as a flagship investment and had been a “very positive outcome for our investors”.
“We are convinced that given the investment profile and sector expertise of the new shareholders, both APG and GIP will undoubtedly provide sound and robust long-term support for the ongoing growth of Peel Ports,” Mackenzie said.