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Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Said to be Weighing Bid for UK Ports Giant Stake

Shipping containers are stacked on a cargo ship in the dock at the ABP port in Southampton, Britain August 16, 2017. Picture taken August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Said to be Weighing Bid for UK Ports Giant Stake

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February 21, 2023

By Dinesh Nair (Bloomberg) —

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is among parties considering a bid for a 34% stake in Associated British Ports, the UK’s biggest port operator, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

Infrastructure investors Stonepeak Partners LP and Canada’s British Columbia Investment Management Corp. are among others interested in the stake being sold by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, according to the people. The stake could be valued at about £2 billion ($2.4 billion) or more, they said.

ABP owns and operates 21 ports in England, Scotland and Wales and handles around one quarter of the UK’s seaborne trade and more than £150 billion of UK trade annually. CPPIB bought its stake in the ports group from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Prudential Plc for £1.6 billion in 2015

Other ABP shareholders include Omers Infrastructure Management, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte and Wren House Infrastructure.

Deliberations are in the early stages and there is no certainty any offers will be made, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Other suitors, including existing shareholders, could also emerge, the people said. 

Spokespeople for ADIA, British Columbia Investment Management and CPPIB declined to comment, while a representative for Stonepeak didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Demand for infrastructure assets has remained resilient despite the overall slowdown in global deal activity, with investors keen to add assets that can deliver more steady and predictable returns to their porfolios. 

In December, Saudi Arabia’s Hassana Investment Co. agreed to invest $2.4 billion in three flagship developments of Dubai port operator DP World. The deal came about six months after a $5 billion investment by Canada’s Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec in the Middle East’s biggest port and two industrial zones.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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