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The south-west England operator running between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has “unequivocally rejected” a takeover bid from the Belfast based shipbuilder Harland and Wolff (H&W), reports Business Live.

Bosses at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group (ISSG), which runs the passenger ferry Scillonian III and two freight vessels, said the approach from the H&W group which in 2020 acquired Devon’s Appledore shipyard, was not in the best interests of shareholders.

In August as Afloat reported, H&W outlined a plan to build new vessels, a passenger ferry, cargo-ship and an inter-island vessel in order to launch its own service on the 37 nautical mile route of Penzance Harbour-St. Mary’s, the largest of the Isles of Scilly.

The Aim-listed firm had previously said it was seeking an operating licence and would work with local councils to apply for ‘Levelling Up’ funding amounting of £48m, in which the UK Government has already allocated for the construction of newbuilds to serve the route.

On Friday (24 Nov.) the board of H&W said it was “disappointed” that an indicative and preliminary cash offer for the entire share capital of the ISSG had been rebuffed. H&W added that they would “consider their options”. At this stage, H&W now has until 21 December, to formally announce whether or not it has a firm intention to make an offer for the Penzance based ISSG, in accordance with the Takeover Code.

The origins of the ISSG can be traced to 1920 when the Isles of Scilly Steamship was established, and the Group continues to be the only operator of passenger and freight services along the route. In April, ISSG announced it had secured a £33.6m loan from private asset finance provider Lombard to fund its own plans for a new 600 passenger ferry and two new freight vessels, to be built by a French shipbuilder’s facility overseas and scheduled for delivery by March 2026.

Published in Shipyards