LONDON (Reuters) - Privately owned Peel Ports has formed a joint venture agreement with Swiss shipping line MSC's Terminal Investment Limited (TiL) to develop Liverpool's container facility.
Peel Ports has already invested 400 million pounds in the Liverpool2 initiative, creating a deep-water container terminal that can receive bigger ships with the aim of boosting transatlantic trade.
The company has been upgrading much of its port network, especially in northwest England, aiming to draw business away from ports further south, especially if there is trade disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.
Ports in the southeast, through which most of Britain's trade with the European Union flows, could become clogged if customs inspections are required when Britain leaves the EU, requiring ports elsewhere to help to ease any pressure.
The proposed Peel Ports joint venture, which is subject to regulatory clearance, was described by the company as an "incredibly positive development" for its container business and the port of Liverpool. The company did not disclose specific details on the planned investment.
"It will enable the business to accelerate its ambitious growth plans," Peel Ports said in a statement.
Work has already begun on the second phase of Liverpool2 to provide additional capacity for the expected increase in volumes, the company said.
Liverpool and the wider northwest area account for about 70% of Peel Ports' overall profits.
TiL’s container terminals business is active in 29 countries and handles 45 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) annually, an MSC Group report showed.
MSC, the world's second-biggest container line, this year launched a service between the Mediterranean and Canada including a Liverpool stop.
This is in addition to a separate service from Liverpool to New York that began last year and is run jointly with the world's No. 1 player Maersk Line <MAERSKb.CO>.
(Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by David Goodman)