H&W opts not to pursue Scilly ferry bid

The current passenger vessel in operation between Penzance to Scilly, the Scillonian III, has served the route for many years. It was built in H&W's Appledore shipyard

BELFAST-based shipbuilding and fabrication company Harland & Wolff has decided not to make a formal bid to buy the company which operates the Isles of Scilly ferry service.

Its initial approach to acquire the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company Limited (ISSCL) was “unequivocally rejected” last month.

AIM-listed H&W said it would mull over its options and, under takeover rules, would take up to December 21 to firm up a bid for the business.

And in a statement, the board of Harland & Wolff Group Holdings said it has concluded not to pursue this matter “and accordingly does not intend to make a firm offer for ISSCL”.

It said: “The company had been considering the opportunity to build and/or operate ferries to service the Isles of Scilly to Penzance route, which it believes is significantly under-served by its current operation.

“We continue to believe there is a clear strategic, operational and financial rationale for the proposed acquisition in pursuit of this and is disappointed that the board of ISSCL had unequivocally rejected our proposal.”

But Harland & Wolff insists it will continue with its plans to offer a fast ferry service on the Penzance - Isles of Scilly route as well as offering a dedicated freight service on the crossing.

“We will make further announcements on both these services in due course,” the company’s statement said.

H&W has previously made clear its desire to get a foothold into the transport links to the Scilly Isles, an archipelago about 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall and which is served by just a single ferry route.

In October it said it would create a rival service to the isles, but this is dependent on the company securing UK government funding worth more than £40 million.

It said at the time: “Having spent three years working on and developing its own specific design and costing model for these vessels, H&W is now at an advanced stage of pursuing this opportunity more fully”.