Burke Shipping sails into the race for Greenore

Doyle Group subsidiary one of three remaining bidders for Louth port

Burke Shipping Group, the principal operating subsidiary of the family-owned Doyle Group, has emerged as a bidder in the final stages of the race for Greenore port in Co Louth. It is one of three remaining bidders for the port, which is jointly owned by the investment company One51 and the State-owned Dublin Port Company.

Warrenpoint Harbour, which recently announced its pre-tax profit doubled to £850,000 (€1.07 million) in 2013, is also among the final bidders for the port. The third bidder is believed to be a family-owned company with interests in transport.

Greenore is strategically located next to the Dublin-Belfast economic corridor, so it is capable of servicing both cities, meaning its new owner will be watched out for closely by Irish exporters.

Burke Shipping Group employs 300 people and has offices in all major Irish ports. It is owned by Connor and Frank Doyle, whose grandfather founded the original company DF Doyle Stevedoring in 1886.


Unsuccessful bid

The Doyle family were previously involved in a consortium with One51, then led by businessman Philip Lynch, that unsuccessfully tried to buy Irish Continental Group.

After a two-year takeover battle for the ferry group, the Doyle Group sold its 12 per cent stake in the company via an institutional placing, raising about €47 million.

In 2013 a dispute arose over Bank of Scotland's sale to an investment fund of loans of €67 million owed to it by the group. The firm wanted to refinance the loans with Ulster Bank and raised concerns about its loans being sold instead to Blue Bay.

The dispute was settled in June 2013 in an agreement that was not disclosed.

The decision by the Doyle family to bid for Greenore indicates its business is again on the expansion trail.

Greenore port requires additional investment to compete against rivals Dublin and Belfast, but its potential has been recognised by An Bord Pleanála, which has described it one of Ireland's "critical infrastructure assets."

Greenore is owned equally by One51 and the Dublin Port Company via a company called Renore Ltd, which was set up to buy the operations of the port in April 2002. It's sale is being handled by IBI Corporate Finance.