Will Wightlink’s fares go up?

Wightlink User Group News

Well of course they will – but it is not the cost of fuel, or the wages paid to the staff that will drive up fares. 

On the 18 April 2023 Travers Smith LLP advised shareholders of Basalt Infrastructure Partners (Basalt) and Fiera Infrastructure (Fiera) on the refinancing of Wightlink.  Travers Smith are no lightweight consultants, with offices in London at 10 Snow Hill as well as internationally, in their own words:  “Alternatives and private capital have been at the heart of Travers Smith for many years. Offering holistic advice and innovative solutions at every level of the private capital structure, we advise on your operational and organisational milestones as deftly as we handle your investments and day-to-day matters.”  Travers Smith advised Basalt on its acquisition of Wightlink in 2015, and subsequent sale of 50% of Wightlink to Canadian fund Fiera in 2019.  The Travers Smith team was led by Finance Partner Ben Thompson, Senior Associate Kanwal Majeed, Associate Storme Paul-Christian . (perhaps a message in their inbox asking if they feel that their advice is ethical and in the best interests of the people of the Isle of Wight is a good idea!)

The debt for the ‘refinancing’ is provided by Allied Irish Bank, Export Development Canada, Intesa Sanpaolo and SEB.  This new arrangement – from 29 March 2023 – is set out in the 34 outstanding Charges that are registered with Companies House, showing SEB acting as Security Agent for the consortium.  A charge is a form of security that a company provides to a lender. The charge is over an asset. This gives the lender the right to take said asset and the proceeds of any sale of the asset, if the terms of agreement between the company and the lender are not met.  An outstanding charge is basically an outstanding debt.

The scope of these Charges is extensive covering the Group’s shoreside property / land, and Marine Mortgages on the whole fleet. These ‘charges’ are held against the subsidiary companies, isolating Arca Topco from direct liability for the debt.

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