The billionaire property tycoon behind Manchester’s Trafford Centre is in talks with ATP, one of Europe’s biggest pension funds, about a potential sale of a stake in Peel Ports, as he attempts to wind down his struggling business empire.
John Whittaker is looking to sell up to 25pc of the £4bn ports operator alongside fellow investor Deutsche Bank.
Other international funds weighing bids for the business include Dutch investment manager APG and Australia’s QIC, City sources said.
Rothschild and Linklaters are advising Peel Ports and Deutsche Bank’s investment arm, DWS, on the transaction.
With annual revenues of £716m and pre-tax earnings of £230m, Peel Ports is the country’s second biggest ports group, operating ports such as Liverpool and Clydesdale.
It carries 13pc of the UK’s maritime traffic through its waters and handles around 60m tons of cargo each year.
The company has been investing in its ports in the north-east of England and is working on expanding its Liverpool2 container terminal so that it can receive larger ships with an eye on increasing transatlantic trade.
A sale of the port operator comes as Mr Whittaker tries to slim down the Peel Holdings empire, which manages assets of more than £5bn across the UK. . . . .
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