The Town of Marystown is out and Marbase Marystown Inc. is in as the potential buyer for the former Marystown Shipyard.
Paul Antle, president and CEO of Pluto Investments Inc., made the announcement at the Burin Peninsula Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting held on Wednesday, March 6.
“Having the town buy the shipyard and lease it to my company Marbase was proving to be a bit more complicated and time consuming than any of us would have thought,” Antle said.
Antle said the municipality and the provincial government were both on board with the arrangement, which would see Marbase buy the shipyard directly from Peter Kiewit Sons.
The Town of Marystown previously had a tentative agreement in place with Kiewit to purchase the facility. Marbase Marystown Inc. had agreed to lease the facility for use as an aquaculture service hub, but there was some hold up as the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment had not signed off on the purchase or lease of the site.
Antle hopes to conclude the deal by the end of March.
“We want to have some activity ready for this season of deployment of nets and services in the sector, and that usually starts to happen in May (or) June, so we want to be participating in some way as quickly as we can.”
He estimated 50-100 people would be employed initially, with that number growing over time.
This is not Antle’s first attempt to purchase the facility.
“My first approach at the yard was looking at it from the lens of building ships and when I did my due diligence the quality of the assets really didn’t align with getting into the sector again — the cost was prohibitive, the economics didn’t make sense.”
Reaction from Town of Marystown
Marystown Mayor Sam Synard said that he is pleased to see that things are once again moving ahead to secure the sale of the yard.
“Our ultimate aim going back now over a year now was to get the Marystown shipyard revitalized, rebranded for an aquaculture service footprint and we’ve been able to do that.”
He added that although the town had signed agreements with Kiewit and Marbase, all three parties ultimately came to the conclusion it made more sense for the latter company to purchase the shipyard directly from Kiewit.
While Synard said he felt confident that the town could have eventually obtained government approval to purchase the facility, the delays could have resulted in a lost opportunity.
“We’ve got to remember the shipyard is not only being reactivated to service the Greig Seafoods project in Placentia Bay. There’s also an active aquaculture industry on the Connaigre Peninsula between Marine Harvest and Cooke Aquaculture.”
Synard said it is a good thing for the town.
“The town ends up not owning the shipyard, which might be a good thing. Who wants to own a shipyard, unless you’re into that business. There’s a risk inherent with owning a shipyard — now we end up with employment, our tax base just increased by $150,000 a year, so we have a broader tax base and employment.”