Westbury Property Fund is to exit the property market with the sale of £142m of its wholly-owned assets to WADI Properties.
The deal will see Westbury complete its reverse takeover of the UK’s best-known haulage and logistics company Eddie Stobart Group for £138m. It will rename the new merged company Stobart Group when the sale completes around 20 September. Eddie Stobart bosses Andrew Tinkler and William Stobart will assume the roles of chief executive officer and chief operating officer respectively.
The payment for Eddie Stobart will take the form of £62m in cash and £76m in new shares.
Westbury also announced today that it is buying rail-connected freight handling business O’Connor for £23m and when both deals are complete it will have assets valued at more than £250m.
The two companies said they saw ‘commercial and environmental benefits of combining road haulage and storage with rail freight and waterborne transport systems’ and offering an integrated service. The firm said its board felt the logistics and haulage market would offer the company better future returns.
It follows Westbury’s announcement in August last year that it wanted to diversify away from commercial property as it felt returns from commercial property would fall going forward. It said it wanted to move into the ports industry and has since bought the Weston Point Docks in Runcorn, AHC Warehousing and the rail operations of VWR.
Richard Burrell, investment manager of Westbury Property Fund, said: ‘The Board of Westbury believes very strongly that in the coming years the opportunity for forward-thinking more environmentally-sensitive logistics businesses will be considerable. Eddie Stobart is a first class business in its own right and together with Westbury's developing deep sea, inland waterway, rail and storage businesses, which are considerably strengthened by the acquisition of O'Connor, and the disposal of substantially all of Westbury's property portfolio, we believe we have the makings of a compelling multi-modal logistics business which will bring valuable benefits to customers and shareholders."