The House will be aware that in May 2014 I launched the process to grant a concession to manage, and exploit the commercial potential of, the Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre. Following a strong competition, I am pleased to announce that Solent Gateway Ltd has been selected as the preferred bidder. This will be a joint venture between David MacBrayne Ltd and GBA (Holdings) Ltd.
The concession is expected to generate significant value for Defence, in terms of both a share in the profits from commercial exploitation of the spare capacity at the port and a reduction in the cost of sea mounting. The commercial arrangement secures the delivery of Ministry of Defence’s routine and, importantly, surge requirements. The new port operator will also be providing a deployable reserve capability as part of the Army’s total support force.
We expect to conclude the transaction and sign a contract with the new operator over the coming month. The concession will commence in the autumn. At that time, around 40 civil service employees, subject to TUPE consultation, will transfer to employment under the winning bidder. As is normal, their existing employment rights will be preserved.