Forth Ports, a subsidiary of Otter Ports Holdings, has acquired the remaining 67% stake in Tilbury Container Services (TCS) for £95m ($149m) from DP World and Associated British Ports (ABP).

Prior to the deal, Forth Ports held a one third stake in TCS (since 1998) with partners DP World and ABP holding the remaining stake.

Forth Ports CEO Charles Hammond said this is an important acquisition and a major step forward in the company’s plans to grow and develop its ports business.

“We believe that stronger links between our container and distribution customers will provide benefits in the supply chain through our London Distribution Park and further underpins our port centric strategy,” Hammond said.

“With 100% ownership of TCS we plan to combine our existing Short Sea container terminal at Tilbury with TCS and create a brand new container business which will handle close to half a million containers.”

TCS is located on the River Thames within the Port of Tilbury, which is a key shipping and distribution port with access to London and the Southeast of England, now fully owned by Forth Ports.

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Currently TCS handles 320,000 containers a year and regularly trades on deep sea routes to South America and South Africa.

The Port of Tilbury also operates a short sea business which provides regular links to Continental Europe and other UK coastal feeder locations.

TCS focuses on north-south trades and handles a high volume of reefer cargo, including Australian and New Zealand meat, butter, cheese and fruit.

In the UK-based TCS, DP World had a 34% stake which it sold for $75.48m. It will continue to focus on its other UK businesses in DP World Southampton and at London Gateway. According to reports, TCS handled about 314,000 containers last year, an increase of 2.4% compared to 2010 volumes.

DP World SVP and MD of Europe and Russia Flemming Dalgaard said TCS will be in good hands with Forth Ports, and will benefit from the resulting consolidation of Forth’s Tilbury Port terminals and connections with its other short sea assets.

“The offer from Forth made good sense to us and the decision was taken in line with the changing market dynamics in the liner industry, including the rapid escalation in vessel sizes,” Dalgaard said.

ABP CEO Peter Jones said the TCS facility lies within the Forth Ports freehold at Tilbury and it makes absolute sense for this business to be consolidated with Forth’s other container activity.

Forth Ports operates seven other ports, out of which six are on the Firth of Forth and one is located on the Tay in Dundee.