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Home / News and Insights / News / BDB Pitmans advises Red Funnel on historic Hythe Ferry acquisition

BDB Pitmans has advised leading cross-Solent ferry operator Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Ltd, (trading as Red Funnel), on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Blue Funnel Ferries Limited (Blue Funnel Ferries) from Blue Funnel (2005) Limited.

Red Funnel has operated between Southampton and Cowes on the Isle of Wight for over 162 years, providing essential lifeline services for foot, vehicles, and freight.

Blue Funnel Ferries has operated the Hythe Ferry, which links Southampton to the Hampshire town of Hythe, since 2017. A ferry has been operated on the route since the Middle Ages and it is now relied on by commuters as well as being a tourist attraction.

Members of the Red Funnel executive leadership, including CEO Fran Collins and CFO Graham Barnetson will take over direction of Blue Funnel Ferries, which will be renamed the Hythe and Southampton Ferry Company Limited, a name inspired by the 1874 company that built the pier and operated the ferry service. The transaction included the grant of a lease to Red Funnel for the use of Hythe Pier.

The Southampton team at BDB Pitmans has assisted Red Funnel on several strategic corporate and property transactions and has extensive experience in the marine industry within the local market. For this transaction, the team was led by corporate partner Oliver Kelly, with assistance from Leah Houghton, Marc Shevlin, and Fin McKenzie (Corporate) and John Newton (Real Estate) and David Crease (Commercial).

Graham Barnetson, CFO of Red Funnel, praised the BDB Pitmans team and noted especially their ‘professionalism, dedication, [and] proactivity’.

BDB Pitmans partner Oliver Kelly concluded:

‘This acquisition will preserve a well-loved part of our nation’s heritage and a vital service for people of the Solent region. We look forward to continuing to work with our long-standing client, Red Funnel, as they provide vital ferry services for commuters and tourists alike.’

The transaction was covered by a number of national and regional media outlets including the BBC, the Daily Echo and County Press.

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