The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company insist it is business as usual after completion of a refinancing operation that saw Australian banker Macquarie and its pension funds selling to a group headed by Banco Espirito Santo from Portugal. This leaves Macquarie with two UK ferry operations, Condor Ferries, purchased during 2008, and Wightlink, acquired in 2005.
The world’s oldest continuously operating passenger ferry company celebrated its 180th anniversary last year, having first lost its independence when Sea Containers took over in 1996. A further sale to Montagu Private Equity for £142 million followed in 2003, before Macquarie stepped in with a £225 million takeover during 2005.
Under the latest change announced on 8 April, Steam Packet ownership passed from Macquarie to Sealion (Isle of Man) Ltd, a company owned by the Steam Packet’s banks. Ro-ro services from Douglas to Heysham and seasonal high-speed links from the island to Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast will be unaffected. A new corporate structure is to be put into place to simplify the present multi-level structure of theorganisation.