British Waterways Marinas Ltd, the subsidiary of the UK’s Canal & Rivers Trust that operates a portfolio of 18 marinas, has been put up for sale.  The deadline for initial expressions of interest is April 6, 2018.

Ian Froome from Vail Williams which along with BDO is handling the sale, told IBI: “We have had a lot of interest for these marinas. They are an investment asset of the Canal & Rivers Trust, the charity that looks after the 2,000 mile UK canal system. Most of the interest shown has been from British companies – existing marina operators, general investors and others – but there may also be some international interest.”

“The April 6 deadline is just the first round,” he added. “After that we will draw up a short list and then undertake full due diligence which I do not know how long it will take.”

Commenting on the forthcoming sale, BWML managing director commented: “I’m pleased to say that BWML is performing well and its prospects for growth are good. After having received a number of informal enquiries, Canal & River Trust has now decided to explore the potential sale of the business.

The portfolio of 18 marinas includes three three coastal and 15 inland marinas of which four are on river navigations. Of the 18 facilities 17 are ‘Gold Anchor’ accredited by The Yacht Harbour Association. In total there 2,520 berths in total of which 28% (699) are residential. The statutory reported income in 2016-17 was £8.1m

The reason for the sale of BWML is that the Canal & River Trust is looking to focus more on its core priorities and to secure long-term revenue from its investments. Having received a number of private approaches, and following an internal review, it has decided to explore options with a number of potential purchasers.

The waterways have always benefitted from private sector investment and this is also a good opportunity to introduce more private sector capital and energy into the sector. The Trust states that it would only sell for the right price and anticipates it might receive some attractive proposals given market interest in the marina sector.

It has engaged BDO LLP and Vail Williams, leaders in the marina and leisure industry field, to support it with the sale, and secure the best return on its investment. All the proceeds from the sale of BWML would be invested in other income-generating assets, so as to deliver further sustainable revenue funding for maintaining the historic waterways in the Trust’s care.

After a sale, the Trust would continue to receive income from network access agreements from the purchaser of the business.  By reinvesting the capital from the sale, it would also generate a long-term revenue income.

The income In 2016-17 included payments made to the Trust from BWML comprising:

- £1.018m in rents and access charges, and

- £1.2m* in profit distribution by way of Gift Aid. (*£950k paid in year, as Annual Accounts and a subsequent £250k paid during 2017/18)

BWML holds 5.8% of the inland marina market and 0.8% of the coastal marina market. Its 86 staff will be retained on their existing terms and conditions.