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Talks progressing on sale of Marystown shipyard

A company led by Newfoundland businessman Daniel Villeneuve is in the process of acquiring the Marystown Shipyard from Peter Kiewit.
St. John's businessman Paul Antle, owner of Newdock, has signed an agreement in principle with Peter Kiewit and Sons to purchase the old shipyard portion of its operations in Marystown. - File photo

Lots of work yet to do: Paul Antle

MARYSTOWN, NL – Paul Antle, owner of Newdock in St. John’s, has signed an agreement in principle with Peter Kiewit and Sons to purchase the Marystown shipyard.

But although the agreement has been signed, Antle said he does not want to get anyone’s hopes up that the sale is a done deal.

“The deal in principle is subject to a certain number of conditions that need to be satisfied before we close the deal,” he told the Southern Gazette.

“Those conditions are environmental issues we need to get sorted out with some sort of working arrangement with the town. We need to have a collective agreement with the union, and all the regular legal work that needs to be done before we would close the deal.”

Antle said the company has a 60-day due diligence period to address the conditions of the agreement.

“We’ve set March 31 as a potential closing time frame, so if we get everything done, then I would take ownership by the end of March.”

Antle added he has had some conversation with an executive of Unifor Local 20 in respect to a collective agreement, “so all of that is in motion now,” he said.

He said he has also met with the town’s mayor.

“We have to have a working relationship with the town as well, so we started those decisions, so everything is in motion.”

Antle said the company is keeping an open mind when it comes to any work that could be done at the facility should he take ownership.

“The industry, whether it’s ship building, ship repair or other support services for manufacturing – we’re looking at all the opportunities in those sectors,” he explained.

“Obviously ship building is going to take a little bit more time to secure work; shorter term we could probably look at some repair, but there’s opportunities for the facility to support other industries and we maybe able to do that a little quicker.

“We’re looking at all the options and all the alternatives – I mean, the sooner we can get some work for Marystown, the better.”

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Antle added that before any work could be done on vessel construction or repair at the yard, “there’s a lot work and money that’s going to be required to upgrade that shipyard to get it safe and efficient for use again.”

He said the company is in a “bit of a chicken and egg situation” when it comes to the facility.

“We’re not going to spend money on the facility without having some work in the pipeline, and vice versa – sometimes it’s tough to get work without having the facility up to snuff,” said Antle.

“But we’re working on all of that. We’re aware of all of that and as soon as we can get some revenue flowing into that place, if we close the deal, well, we will.”

Antle said he doesn’t want to create any expectations in the community that the company cannot fulfill.

“Right now, it’s one step at a time, and we’re really taking our time making sure we can get things done right,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

colin.farrell@southerngazette.ca

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