It was 10:14am on 24 June this year that I reported Brittany Ferries was on the brink of buying Condor Ferries
I described the move as “imminent”. A very very very well-placed source had told me it was expected to happen within 24 hours.
Well my source was only 143 days out in their prediction, but it has finally come to pass.
Today a consortium made up of Brittany Ferries (who will get a 25% stake) and a European investment fund run by Columbia Threadneedle (who bag the remaining 75%) have taken full control of Condor.
So what does it all mean for you and me?
We are all familiar with the good times and bad times of the ferry operator which connects Guernsey and Jersey with the UK and France.
In the short term it means nothing. It is business as usual, and I expect the Condor brand will live on - possibly permanently, but certainly for the next few years.
The official line is that the new owners are looking forward to working with management and staff, and there's a reassurance that jobs are safe.
Governments in both islands are very happy with this outcome.
Columbia Threadneedle are in this for the long term. They are not after mega returns this month or this year. They are after a slow and steady return on their investment, in this turbulent world, knowing there will always be demand for both freight and passenger services on these routes is the sort of stability they crave.
Meanwhile, Brittany Ferries know how to run a complicated ferry network and are used to the weather battles of the English Channel.
Expect to see at least one new vessel added to the route in fairly short order. It may not be another conventional ferry (the big slow ones) but it is likely to be something more robust than the Liberation has proved to be. The priority will be shoring up freight capacity.
The deal is also a testament to the leadership of Paul Luxon, Condor’s CEO, who took over the company management at a torrid time a few years back and has steadily worked to improve reliability, customer service, and the overall experience of passengers.
For now, Condor stays Condor and everything looks and feels the same. But expect some little nips and tucks in the coming months, and confident approach to the development of these sea links that a million passengers a year and myriad businesses rely on.
- Gary Burgess reports...