Ocean Terminal bosses put site on market for £100m

Ocean Terminal
Ocean Terminal
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ONE of Edinburgh’s biggest shopping centres has been put up for sale, with a £100 million price tag.

Ocean Terminal, which has more than 70 shops and is home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, has been put up for sale by owner Forth Ports.

The sale has been announced just one month after infrastructure fund Arcus formally completed its £746m takeover of the Edinburgh-based port operator and property company.

Bosses say they want to focus on investing money in “re-industrialisation” of the Leith Docks area, particularly in relation to the renewables sector.

It wants to hand over the development of Ocean Terminal to a company with “real expertise and skills” in retail.

It is not yet known whether the decision has been influenced by the failure of the council to provide a tram route that would have linked the site to the city centre and airport.

City leaders say they expect strong interest from investors looking to gain control of a key attraction within one of Edinburgh’s prime regeneration areas.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “The Forth Ports site is a wonderful opportunity for investors to get the chance to deal with an area that the council wants to see regenerated and I am sure there will be a wide range of interest.

“Investors have been looking at Edinburgh and we have a number of different attractive investment opportunities. The issue will be, can Forth Ports make it attractive enough to raise the price they are looking for?”

Cllr Buchanan, whose SNP group has consistently opposed the development of the tram, dismissed any concern that a sale may be difficult now that there is no timetable for when the tram could reach Leith.

He said: “I would not think it will influence any sale in the sense that Forth Ports will have put it on the market at a level relevant to the market.”

Ocean Terminal was opened in 2001 after Forth Ports linked up with Bank of Scotland in a joint venture to develop and manage the centre. Following the Lloyds Banking Group’s takeover of HBOS, the bank sold its 50 per cent stake back to Forth Ports for £2m in 2009, although the centre still has £68m of debt.

The sale of Ocean Terminal will be the first major change in strategy since Arcus Infrastructure Partners’ takeover last month.

Simon Gray, founder of Arcus, said: “We acquired Forth Ports because we identified significant potential to develop the ports business both in Scotland and in England and we see exciting opportunities to do so, particularly in supporting the renewables sector.

“Real estate and retail are specialised areas and we believe that the further development of Ocean Terminal and Waterfront Plaza is best carried out by someone who has real expertise in this area.”

Among the main initiatives Forth Ports is focusing on is its controversial £600m biomass plant it plans to build in a joint venture with Scottish & Southern Energy.

mblackley@edinburghnews.com