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Harper Macleod advises marine client on $115m port deal in Australia

Harper Macleod, one of Scotland's leading law firms, has concluded one of its biggest deals to date in the marine sector – on the other side of the world.

The firm's Shipping, Ports & Harbours team advised on the financial close of a $115m investment by its long-standing client Sea Transport Corporation (STC) and Australian financial institutions in the Lucky Bay common user port facility near Adelaide, South Australia. The facility is expected to provide significant benefits to the huge local grain sector.

Lucky Bay Port Facility Harper Macleod Scotland Lawyer Solicitor Shipping

The STC group, which was established in 1976 by Scots born businessman Stuart Ballantyne, owns, operates and constructs marine vessels, and has a track record in the establishment of new ports and ferry routes.

Steven Brown, Partner, who leads the team from Harper Macleod's Edinburgh office, said: "We supported our client throughout negotiations with the institutional investors, in developing a contract that allows priority to operate Sea Transport's own ferry service out of the port, contracts to design, build and manage a $21m transhipper vessel, and creating a potential pipeline of follow on port developments."

Steven has advised STC since 1989, typically being asked to bring specialist advice on port development or operation, or marine vessel issues, and often working with a local advisory team. Harper Macleod, ranked as one of Scotland's leading corporate dealmaking firms, acts for a number of clients in the marine sector in Scotland and beyond, including port owners and operators, vessel designers and builders, and ferry operators.

The Lucky Bay port facility will be built and operated by T-Ports, a joint venture between Inheritance Capital Asset Management, Duxton Asset Management and STC. The facility, which is expected to be fully operational by October, includes a shallow harbour port, a 430,000 tonne capacity grain storage, a 150,000t upcountry storage and a specially built shallow draft transhipment vessel to transfer grain to larger ships five miles out to sea.

The new port will bring much needed competition to the grain handling sector in South Australia, and already has the backing of many local grain producers, who could also significantly reduce their freight costs.

Steven Brown added: "The onshore grain storage facilities and transhipper vessel should be ready in in time to capture this year's harvest, for the first time giving 800+ farmers in South Australia a direct route to export grain to world markets and avoid the adverse effects of lack of competition in the existing commodities export channel from the region that has constrained the industry."