Sun­fer­ries sold

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - busi­ness edi­tor Tony Rag­gatt tony. rag­gatt@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

TOWNSVILLE-based ferry c o mpany Sun­fer­ries has been ac­quired by na­tional tourism and trans­port op­er­a­tor SeaLink Travel Group, based in Ade­laide.

But the takeover won’t af­fect Sun­fer­ries’ 70 Townsville-based em­ploy­ees, with all to keep their jobs.

SeaLink also plans to ac­quire a new ves­sel, and al­though they would not rein­tro­duce reef tours out of Townsville, the com­pany would work with other marine tourism op­er­a­tors to help es­tab­lish such a ser­vice.

Sun­fer­ries op­er­ates 19 re­turn ser­vices per day be­tween Townsville and Mag­netic Is­land, as well as four ser­vices per week to Palm Is­land.

SeaLink will still run both ser­vices un­der the Sun­fer­ries name.

The deal, an­nounced yes­ter­day, in­volves SeaLink ac­quir­ing 100 per cent of the shares in Sun­fer­ries Group Pty Ltd, in­clud­ing its ferry op­er­a­tions and Sun­fer­ries Travel, with part of the con­sid­er­a­tion in­volv­ing Sun­fer­ries owner and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Terry Dodd tak­ing a 9 per cent share­hold­ing in SeaLink. The Syd­ney Fast Fer­ries busi­ness, also owned by Mr Dodd, will not be ac­quired by SeaLink.

As part of the ar­range­ment, Mr Dodd will join the SeaLink board.

SeaLink CEO and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Jeff Ellison said it would be ‘‘ busi­ness as usual’’ for Sun­fer­ries with all of the 70 ex­ist­ing Townsville-based staff be­ing re­tained al­though g e ner a l man­ager Darin McDon­ald left the com­pany about three weeks ago. Mr Dodd would con­tinue to act as gen­eral man­ager un­til a new ap­point­ment was made.

The SeaLink Travel Group, es­tab­lished in 1989, op­er­ates fer­ries at Ade­laide, Auck­land and now Townsville, travel agen­cies in Aus­tralian cap­i­tal cities and tourism and coach charter op­er­a­tions.

The ac­qui­si­tion will add about $ 12.5 mil­lion to SeaLink’s to­tal an­nual rev­enue, lift­ing it to al­most $ 80 mil­lion and grow its an­nual pas­sen­ger num­bers by about 800,000 to al­most 1.8 mil­lion a year.

Mr Dodd said the ac­qui­si­tion was in the best in­ter­est of Sun­fer­ries and would pro­vide the strength needed to f ur­ther de­velop tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Townsville area.

‘‘ We think there are tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties to fur­ther grow tourism in the Townsville re­gion,’’ he said.

Mr Ellison said SeaLink wanted to show­case Aus­trala­sia to the world and grow the Sun­fer­ries busi­ness and pro­mot­ing Mag­netic Is­land.

Photo: TROY RODGERS

CRUISIN’: Sun­fer­ries has been sold to na­tional op­er­a­tor SeaLink

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