New owners for historic Queensland maritime company
Australia’s oldest and largest marine pilotage company Australian Reef Pilots (ARP) has been bought by a consortium of its employees.
ARP, which services all types of shipping through the Great Barrier Reef, has been sold by the private Brisbane-based company Torres Industries to a group of ARP executives and reef pilots, making for a very ‘hands on’ team.
ARP CEO Simon Meyjes has led the buyout and said it would be business as usual during the transition.
“We know the business and our customers intimately and want to seize the opportunities we can see to grow and expand our services,” Mr Meyjes said.
“We will maintain a strong focus on customer satisfaction and ship safety – it’s what sets us apart in this industry.”
Brisbane-based private equity firm Catapult Partners has also invested in ARP. Catapult director Andrew Morgan said the partnership was a natural fit.
“Investing alongside management and the pilots is attractive for us,” Mr Morgan explained.
“As an investor, we target Management Buyouts (MBO) because it’s the purest form of management/investor alignment. A company with such a long history and stable financial performance is also an alluring investment thematic.
“Simon and his team have built a great business and we look forward to working with them.”
Torres Industries chairman Don McLay said an MBO is a good outcome for all parties.
“In such a client service-oriented business, the closer pilots and staff can get to their customer, the better the outcomes for all stakeholders in such a highly-regulated yet competitive industry,” Mr McLay said.
As a vertically integrated business, ARP owns a range of infrastructure and intellectual property.
It employs 38 pilots at four working pilot stations, has 41 managerial and support staff, and owns or operates six pilot boats and five helicopters.
ARP has been providing pilotage services on the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait for 126 years.