Ministers intervene in deadlock over sale of Teesside freight port
However, Mr Houchen is locked in a legal dispute with PD Ports, the operator of Teesport owned by Brookfield, for access to the site, which is surrounded by land he controls. The mayor’s officials have asked the High Court for a statement that PD Ports has only one legal route.
The operator, which employs 700 people, accused Mr. Houchen of “holding hostage” his future. Court documents filed by PD Ports accused it of seeking to drive down the value of the Â£ 1billion business and then buy it at a low price.
It is understood that the OFI, based at the Department of International Trade, last week organized talks between Mr Houchen and Brookfield executives to break the deadlock.
Both sides declined to comment, but it is understood that the talks are at a “delicate” stage.
Sources said the port has attracted a wide range of potential investors, although the sale process, led by investment bank RBC Capital Markets, has yet to officially resume after being cut short by Covid.
Buyers with the lowest cost of capital were likely to be competitive in the process, the source added.
If fulfilled, Mr Houchen’s ambitions would eclipse his previous Â£ 40million deal to make the region’s airport public property – a key pledge when he was elected in 2017 – after being threatened with closure .
Mubadala has already signed an investment deal with the UK to inject Â£ 800million into life sciences in March and is in talks on further potential investments in clean energy, technology and infrastructure .