Ports figures released today

FINANCIAL results announced today by Associated British Ports Holdings PLC (ABPH), the company that owns the Port of Ipswich, have been described as 'solid'.

FINANCIAL results announced today by Associated British Ports Holdings PLC (ABPH), the company that owns the Port of Ipswich, have been described as 'solid'.

Announced to the London Stock Exchange as business opened today the company's preliminary results for 2004 also showed a significant increase in turnover.

In 2003 group turnover was £401.3 million the latest results show a jump of 10pc to £439.5 million and underlying group pre-tax profit rose by 4pc from £130.4 million in 2003 to £135.4 million in 2004.

However, the results also show a drop in pre-tax profits from £134.3 million in 2003 to £83 million in 2004 a fall of 38pc.

ABPH bosses said this was due to a one-off payment of nearly £45 million used to write off costs of a failed project for a new terminal at Dibden, near Southampton, that did not get the go ahead by government.

Associated British Port Holdings PLC is the parent company of Associated British Ports (ABP) which owns ports in Ipswich as well as Kings Lynn and Lowestoft. ABP handles almost a quarter of the UK's seaborne trade.

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Rob Smith, ABP's East Anglian ports manager, which include Ipswich, said: "It is a solid set of results for the company. Ipswich did not have the best of years in 2004 partly due to the 2003-2004 grain harvest, which meant very little grain exports in 2004.

"But the ferry business is growing with a £6.1million investment that includes a new linkspan (a bridge between land and ship) in March."

The investment is planned to increase capacity at the port. Mr Smith said he expected to add to the 175 strong workforce at the port during 2005.

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