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Stagecoach’s Souter Bids $861 Million for Istanbul Ferry Co

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Souter Investments LLP, owned by U.K.-based Stagecoach Group Plc’s founder Brian Souter, and three Turkish partners won an auction to buy 30-year rights to operate Istanbul ferry company IDO, bidding $861 million.

Souter and partners beat off rivals including shipping and ferry operator Stena AB and Koc Holding AS, Turkey’s biggest group of companies, Adem Basturk, head of the auction committee, told bidders and reporters in the city today.

IDO Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri Sanayi & Ticaret AS, as the company is also known, had sales of 347 million liras ($231 million) last year, carrying 50 million passengers in the city and to adjacent islands and towns around the Marmara Sea.

Souter, 56, who also runs Fullers Ferries of New Zealand, bid with Akfen Holding AS, Tepe Insaat Sanayi AS and Sera Gayrimenkul Yatirim & Isletme AS. Souter has a 30 percent share in the consortium. Tepe and Akfen own rights to operate Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, the largest in Turkey.

“We are experienced in this business and we have a similar business operating in New Zealand,” Andy Macfie, who runs Souter Investments for Brian Souter, said in an interview in Istanbul after winning the auction.

IDO runs 10 high-speed ferries, 25 sea buses and 17 car ferries, according to a press release handed to reporters before the auction. It also carried 7 million motor vehicles on its boats in 2010.

Loans

The group will finance three-quarters of the purchase of IDO with loans, Irfan Erciyas, a board member of Akfen, told reporters after the auction. The transaction, which is subject to Turkish regulatory approval, may be completed in three to four months, he said.

Akfen rose as much as 8.7 percent to 11.90 liras on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, the biggest increase since an initial public offering in May last year. It rose 3.2 percent to 11.30 liras at the close of trading.

The sale price values IDO at 8.6 times its 2010 earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortization, Erkan Kurt, corporate director of broker EFG Istanbul, an adviser to Souter and its partners for the purchase, said in an interview.

Souter Investments LPP, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, has stakes in listed companies such as Stagecoach, which is valued at 1.53 billion pounds ($2.5 billion), according to the company’s share price. It also owns stakes in unlisted firms including Fullers Ferries, Sunseeker Yachts, insurer Esure, and U.K. bus maker Alexander Dennis, according to its 2010 Investment Review.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at eersoy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Bentley at mbentley3@bloomberg.net

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