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Appledore.jpg Photo: Appledore

InfraStrata buys Appledore, expands UK shipyard capacity

London-listed strategic infrastructure investment firm, InfraStrata, is buying the UK’s Appledore Shipyard for £7m and will rename it Harland and Wolff (Appledore). The north Devon yard was shut by its former owner, Babcock, in March 2019.

The acquisition, which is to be made in five tranches over 30 months, is InfraStrata’s second UK shipyard deal, following its rescue of Harland & Wolff in Belfast last December when then-owners, Norway’s Dolphin Drilling, could not sell the facility.

InfraStrata managers have an upbeat outlook on the UK’s shipbuilding and marine engineering sector, including demand from operators of smaller vessels less than 120 metres. The shipyard has a covered 119m drydock as well as alongside repair capacity.

Noting that there was a skilled workforce readily available nearby, InfraStata said that the shipyard will be focusing on contracts in the commercial, defence, cruise and ferry, renewables, and oil and gas sectors. The company had identified a shortage of facilities in the UK capable of servicing these areas, it said, pointing out that there will be significant requirements for technical services, newbuilding, repairs and maintenance, in-service support, conversions and decommissioning over the next ten years.

In addition to Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Department for Transport requirements, InfraStrata noted a number of proposed wind farm projects that will require UK fabrication and load-out capacity. However, existing UK capacity is limited, and the company believes that H&W (Appledore) is well-placed to fill the gap and bid for these types of contracts.

Meanwhile, the two shipyards complement each other. The Belfast yard has two large drydocks of 356 metres and 556 metres, the second largest in Europe and, despite the pandemic, has already met its initial targets following the December acquisition.

The focus so far has been on minor repair works in the first phase of re-starting H&W (Belfast) in order to de-risk operations. However, now that this phase is completed, the company will be negotiating with clients on larger contracts.

Discussions continue with the UK Export Finance Department, it said, to secure lines of financing for overseas clients to provide working capital for projects with larger work scopes in the range of £20-100m.


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