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Ferry firm Irish Continental secures loan to help fund passenger vessel


NI businessman John B McGuckian

NI businessman John B McGuckian

NI businessman John B McGuckian

Ferry firm Irish Continental - headed by Northern Irish industrialist John B McGuckian - has secured a €75m (£69m) loan facility from the European Investment Bank to help finance the construction of a state-of-the-art €144m (£133m) passenger vessel.

Irish Continental (ICG) applied for the financing last April.

The new ship is being built in Germany and will accommodate 1,885 passengers and crew, have 435 cabins and space for 165 freight vehicles as well as 300 cars.

It's due for delivery next year. ICG expects to use the vessel on the Dublin-Holyhead route during the week and for sailings between Dublin and Cherbourg at weekends.

Reporting first-half results yesterday, ICG said that its car and freight volumes rose during the summer months despite weaker sterling and the continuing Brexit cloud.

"Summer trading remains encouraging across all business areas, we have experienced volume growth in car and freight volumes while the further weakening of sterling is offset by easing euro fuel prices," chairman John McGuckian said.

It said revenue in the first half of the year, which excludes its busy summer season, rose 3.7% to €156.1m (£144m).

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Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) slipped 3% to €29.6m (£27.2m). Earnings before interest and tax were €48.4m in the first six months, however, compared to €20.8m (£19.2m) in the first half of 2016.

ICG sold its MV Kaitiki during the period for €45m, generating a profit after tax of €25.5m (£23.4m) on the sale. Roll-on/roll-off freight volumes in the first half of 2017 declined 0.4%.

Between July 1 and August 26, Irish Ferries carried 118,900 cars, which was 3.1% more than during the corresponding period in 2016. Roll-on/roll-off freight carryings by the group between July 1 and August 26 rose 0.4% over the corresponding period in 2016, to 43,600 units.

The company carried 293,400 cars between January 1 and August 26, which was up 2.7% year-on-year.