Forth Ports valued at £750 million in takeover approach

One of Edinburgh’s biggest landowners is this morning subject to a lucrative £750 million takeover bid.

Forth Ports – which saw a 29 per cent increase in half-year profits to £16 million in August - is wanted by European infrastructure fund Arcus.

Arcus failed in a similar approach last year when it valued the firm at £640 – or 1400p a share. Its renewed interest is said to be closer to 1630p a share.

That, and a pledge to pay 20p in the pound in dividend for last year’s performance, has been enough to persuade Forth’s management to open up their books.

A statement form Forth Ports said: "On the basis of this indicative proposal, the board has agreed that Arcus can undertake certain confirmatory due diligence."

Forth Ports is the UK’s only remaining listed ports company and has an attractive collection of property and is said to have been in high level talks with Arcus for a number of weeks.

Forth is the main driver behind plans to regenerate Edinburgh’s sprawling waterfront area, and is part of a consortium pushing plans to build a biomass energy plant in Leith.

More recently it assumed full ownership of Ocean Terminal having bought out its initial investment partners.

Other docks at Rosyth, Dundee, Methil and Burntisland as well as the land around Leith is included in its Scottish portfolio.

Grangemounth – Scotland’s largest container port – is also part of the group.

Tilbury docks on the Thames in London - which is expected to receive a huge boost in profits as a result of increased use during the 2012 Olympics – is central to the bid also.

This approach comes just only a fortnight before the company is due to report its full year results on March 22.

Investment firm Arcus was formed in 2009 following a management buyout of Babcock & Brown’s operations in Europe.

Its interests include Euroports, the second largest dry bulk port operator in Europe.