Harland & Wolff owner signs accord with Spanish shipbuilder
Infrastrata and Navantia sign memorandum of understanding that could bring shipbuilding back to Belfast
Harland & Wolf shipyard in Belfast.Photograph: Eric Luke
Infrastrata, the London-listed company that is taking over Harland & Wolff, could bring major shipbuilding projects back to Belfast after confirming plans to work with Navantia, the Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company.
Infrastrata has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Navantia which it intends to follow up with a more formal teaming agreement. That could result in both organisations working together on a number of infrastructure and marine projects.
Navantia is among companies tendering for a £1.5 billion fleet contract with the UK defence ministry.
Earlier this month, Infrastrata raised £6 million (€7 million) via a share issue to complete its acquisition of the historic east Belfast shipyard that built the Titanic. The company still needs final approval from its shareholders to acquire the assets of Harland & Wolff, which it will seek at a meeting on November 29th.
John Wood, interim chairman and chief executive of Infrastrata, said the company was “very excited” about the opportunities the agreement with the Spanish shipbuilder could create.
“Navantia is world renowned for its shipbuilding capabilities and offshore infrastructure expertise and experience, and therefore has access to significant commercial opportunities in these sectors,” he said.
“The combination of Navantia’s footprint in these sectors and Harland & Wolff’s fabrication and other support capabilities offers the ideal commercial environment to bring large and challenging projects to successful fruition,” Mr Wood said.
According to Infrastrata, subject to the completion of the Harland & Wolff acquisition, the Spanish shipbuilder could “utilise” the assets of the Belfast yard possibly to support its tender to the UK defence ministry for a £1.5 billion contract to build three new fleet solid support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
As part of this tender, the Navantia had said its intention is “to enlarge the UK supply chain involvement not only for this project but also for future new-build programmes”.
Navantia had been one of five companies chosen in November 2018 to compete for the contract to build the ships but the MoD abruptly suspended the tender process earlier this month, stating that the bids were not delivering value for money. There is unlikely to be any further progress on the tender for the ships until after the UK’s general election.
Separately, Infrastrata has said it intends to raise a further £1 million from existing shareholders via the PrimaryBid platform. The company said it would place more than 333 million new ordinary shares at 0.1p each on the platform to raise £1 million or, at its board’s “sole discretion, to up to £2 million”.
According to Infrastrata the “net proceeds of the fundraise will provide the company with additional working capital”.