UK-based private equity company Epiris has signed an agreement to take over port agency and marine services provider Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) from Dubai-based investment firm Istithmar.

The financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

With a global network covering 85% of the world’s ports, ISS offers maritime services to ship owners, operators and charterers.

ISS CEO Frank Olsen said: “Epiris is making a transformative investment that will enable us to build on our already successful business model to achieve our vision of supporting global trade with a best-in-class, digitally-enabled platform serving customers’ needs in every port, everywhere.”

According to Olsen, the deal will strengthen its core port agency operations and expand the digitalisation of services.

He also said that ‘Inchcape is coming home’ with the acquisition, which ‘returns the company to its British roots after it was originally founded in 1847 by Scottish merchants William Mackinnon and Robert Mackenzie before being renamed in the last century under the erstwhile ownership of the Inchcape family from Scotland”.

Established in India in 1847, ISS is currently based in London and has a presence in more than 60 countries.

With a workforce of more than 2,700, the ISS global network includes more than 240 proprietary offices.

The port agency division of the company can handle all aspects of a port call, ranging from arranging pilots, tugboats and mooring, to loading, unloading, clearing and forwarding freight.

The division also offers resupplying, refuelling and crewing services to cargo, passenger and naval vessels.

Its marine services division delivers spare parts as well as other products and services needed by vessels during a port call.

ISS is said to handle around $4bn of transactions across more than 80,000 port calls each year.

Epiris partner Charles Elkington said: “ISS is a global leader in a resilient market experiencing long-term growth, driven by ship owners’ and operators’ focus on cost-effectiveness, sustainability and compliance.”