Ferry in takeover battle

THE FIGHT is on to stop a Falklands company – backed by a local MP – mounting a dramatic £10m takeover bid of the Gosport Ferry.

Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company – which owns the cross harbour service – is set to be bought out by its major shareholder, the Falkland Islands Holding Plc.

The company's 240 shareholders – a large number of whom are local investors based in Hampshire – are to be offered 44 a share.

That figure may be hard to turn down since the last round of shares bought by Falkland were sold for around 20.

Any acquisition would bring an end to Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company's 123-year association with the ferry, which takes 3.8m passengers every year.

The takeover has the support of Gosport Tory MP Peter Viggers, who is set to financially benefit from the move by taking up an offer to become a non-executive director of the new board.

Company sources say they will fight the takeover bid all the way.

They fear that if the company gets into the hands of one shareholder, fares will rise and investment in the ferries will fall.