Guernsey Press

Condor had options to fund deal for Islander

CONDOR Ferries had bank funding lined up to purchase its new Islander ferry if the States of Guernsey had not used emergency powers to finance the deal, the firm’s chief executive has revealed.

Condor CEO John Napton. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32137137)

John Napton said that Condor had options to fund the purchase of the new ro-pax ferry from New Zealand, a deal that was agreed in early March before the States convened the Civil Contingencies Authority two weeks later to confirm a funding arrangement to ‘prevent a potential emergency occurring’.

‘I can’t comment on the political process. I don’t understand it and I wasn’t in the room, or part of the process,’ he said.

‘We were successful in the bidding process. We had financing planned, but not in place. We could have financed it through the bank but we chose to work with the island – as massive stakeholders, we wanted to work closely with them, all in it together.’

Mr Napton said he did not know how the States had determined a ‘potential emergency’.

‘My only interest in all of this was to secure an additional ferry for the fleet and not to get involved in politics.’

Now the purchase of Islander, currently on its way to dry dock in Spain for a refit before it heads to the islands to start services in the autumn, is a joint venture between the States and Condor.

Each side put in £3m. cash and the States also loaned Condor £26m. to complete the purchase, money which will be repaid over a 10-year timeframe at commercial interest rates.

Alongside the return on the loan, the only other benefit the States will receive from the deal is a share of ownership of the vessel. The funding does not mean preferential treatment for Guernsey in terms of routes and schedules, Mr Napton said.

‘What this arrangement does do is if there are issues with the rest of the fleet, that ship has to be prioritised by us to deliver lifeline services.

‘But in normal day-to-day running, there is no oversight. At the end of the day, if this agreement impinges on commercial decisions, it becomes a very dangerous tool to have. To have them telling us how to run the company isn’t a place our business wants to be in.’