Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish Ferries lands €75m loan as revenue rises

Irish Continental is due to take delivery of a new €144m passenger ship, which is being built in Germany, next year
Irish Continental is due to take delivery of a new €144m passenger ship, which is being built in Germany, next year
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish Ferries operator Irish Continental has secured a €75m loan facility from the European Investment Bank to help finance the construction of its new, state-of-the-art, €144m passenger vessel.

Irish Continental (ICG) applied for the financing last April.

The new ship is being built in Germany and will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew, have 435 cabins and space for 165 freight vehicles as well as 300 cars.

It's due for delivery next year. ICG expects to use the vessel on the Dublin-Holyhead route during the week and for sailings between Dublin and Cherbourg at weekends.

Reporting first-half results yesterday, ICG said that its car and freight volumes rose during the summer months despite weaker sterling and the continuing Brexit cloud.

It said revenue in the first half of the year, which excludes its busy summer season, rose 3.7pc to €156.1m. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) slipped 3pc to €29.6m. Earnings before interest and tax were €48.4m in the first six months, however, compared to €20.8m in the first half of 2016. ICG sold its MV Kaitiki during the period for €45m, generating a profit after tax of €25.5m on the sale.

Roll-on roll-off freight volumes in the first half of 2017 declined 0.4pc. The number of cars carried in the period was 2.3pc higher, at 174,500.

"Summer trading remains encouraging across all business areas, we have experienced volume growth in car and freight volumes whilst the further weakening of sterling is offset by easing euro fuel prices," said chairman John McGuckian.

Between July 1 and August 26, Irish Ferries carried 118,900 cars, which was 3.1pc more than during the corresponding period in 2016.

Roll-on roll-off freight carryings by the group between July 1 and August 26 rose 0.4pc over the corresponding period in 2016, to 43,600 units.

The company carried 293,400 cars between January 1 and August 26, which was up 2.7pc year-on-year. Roll-on roll-off freight volumes fell 0.2pc in the period, however.

Davy Stockbrokers welcomed the lift in car numbers since January.

"We would view the car numbers as encouraging, particularly against the negative market Brexit commentary, reflecting both strong inbound (from the UK) and outbound demand," noted analyst Stephen Furlong.

"However, freight volumes are disappointing, but with the overall market up circa 6pc and ICG looking robust in addition to the dry docking issues which Irish Ferries had earlier in the year, we expect there is some rebalancing going on in market share gains with Stena over the last few years."

Irish Independent

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