Bristol City Council has made £10m selling off a freehold on land occupied by the city’s port, which had been valued by accountants at less than half the price just three years ago.
Mayor George Ferguson hailed the move as ‘exceptionally good value’ for Bristol and revealed that £9m of the proceeds would be invested in a revolving regeneration fund.
The remaining £1m would go to a specific fund for the ‘four villages’ contained within Avonmouth and Kingsweston wards.
The freehold on the land was purchased by the Bristol Port Company, which was privatised in 1991 when the council sold the business with a 150-year lease on around 2,500 acres at Avonmouth and Portbury.
This deal means the company now owns the land outright and can invest without fear of any long-term security issues.
Terence Mordaunt, chairman of The Bristol Port Company, said: ‘The previous leasehold arrangement would have made it increasingly difficult, and eventually impossible, to finance our capital-intensive business. Bristol was the only major port in the UK which was restricted in this way; it is now able to compete for investment on a level playing field.'
Bristol City Council has retained its 12.5% shareholding in the Port Co, currently worth over £1m a year in income. The port company has invested more than £475m since it was privatised and employs more than 10,000 people.
George Ferguson, mayor of Bristol said: ‘There was an understanding the council would sell the residual freehold to The Bristol Port Company at market price back in 1991, once the Port Co had proved its capability of running an efficient port. They have more than delivered on this and the agreed price far exceeds market value.
'This will be to the mutual benefit of the city and the company, helping boost trade and stimulate the economy.’
Bristol City Council said it had sought external valuation advice from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), who concluded the price was extremely favourable for the seller, while in 2012, top accountants Deloitte placed the value at £4.35m.