Swedish billionaire sets sail for Belfast after £500m ferries investment

Stena AB owner and chief executive Dan Stena Olsson in Belfast to deliver a keynote conference address
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SWEDISH billionaire businessman and ferry giant Stena's majority shareholder Dan Sten Olsson (76) is making another appearance in Belfast.

He is due to deliver the keynote address at a three-day conference in ICC Belfast entitled ‘Care for each other and the future’.

The company - which has invested hundreds of millions of pounds in Northern Ireland over the last 28 years - is holding its annual Stena Sphere Forum in the city.

More than 260 delegates are attending the event, which brings together senior executives from Stena Line’s three parent companies Stena AB, Stena Metal AB and Stena Sessan AB, which operate on a global basis in industries as diverse as shipping, recycling, finance, property and environmental services.

Stena AB employs 16,000 people across Europe, which includes around 2,500 on its six Irish Sea ferry routes.

Stena Line moved to Belfast in 1995, and since then Belfast has established itself as Stena Line’s largest European business hub.

Securing Stena AB owner and chief executive Dan Stena Olsson to speak in Belfast is seen as a major coup, though he is a frequent visitor to Ireland.

Holder of a degree from the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law, he owns 51 per cent of Stena Sphere, where he has been CEO since 1983.

Paul Grant, Stena Line trade director (Irish Sea), said: “We’re delighted to bring senior colleagues from other Stena Sphere companies to Belfast to highlight our development and the exciting journey Northern Ireland is on.

“Our Belfast hub has grown rapidly and today we now operate seven ships on three routes from Belfast Port.

“The commitment from Stena Line over the last 28 years to Northern Ireland has been unwavering as has their financial support for our Irish Sea routes with more than £500 million of investment in state-of-the-art ships and port facilities over the last decade alone, servicing growing freight and tourism demands.

“This commitment is exemplified with Stena Line’s recent confirmation of the constructing of two new bespoke freight ferries for the Belfast-Heysham freight service, which will increase freight capacity on the route by approximately 80 per cent.

“The ‘NewMax’ vessels, the first of which is due to enter service on the route in autumn 2025 will also be able to operate on methanol fuel, an important development in Stena Line’s future sustainability commitment.”

The Stena Sphere Forum starts on Thursday September at the ICC in Belfast and includes a visit to Titanic Belfast and a gala dinner in Belfast City Hall.