North Star has secured a £140million financing package to support the next phase of its ambitious offshore wind growth plan as it looks to broaden its position as the UK’s leading service operations vessel (SOV) operator and seize new opportunities in Europe.
The investment includes a £50million commitment from the Scottish National Investment Bank (The Bank), as well as IFM Investors, Edmond de Rothschild’s BRIDGE, and RBC Capital Markets.
The Bank’s investment aligns with its mission to support Scotland’s transition to net zero, allowing the continued expansion of offshore wind projects in the North Sea by addressing recognised demand for SOVs and commissioning service operations vessels (CSOVs).
North Star, which is owned by Partners Group, a leading global private markets firm acting on behalf of its clients, has bases in Aberdeen, Lowestoft and Newcastle, and has been operating in the North Sea for 135 years. Its 1,300-strong workforce currently manage and operate 42 offshore support vessels providing critical safety services to over 50 UK Continental Shelf installations 24hrs a day, all year round.
The firm entered the offshore wind market last year after winning all four long-term charter SOV awards for the highly competitive Dogger Bank Wind Farm. These four vessels will be delivered from 2023, financed by a £127million project facility secured from Allianz Global Investors last year. SOVs provide accommodation for wind technicians and access to equipment while working in field. North Star’s state-of-the-art ships utilise hybrid-power, dynamic positioning (DP), AI and machine learning technologies.
North Star chief strategy officer Fraser Dobbie said: “We have a 40-year track record of reliable marine operations, 15 years of DP experience operating close to clients’ assets, and proven expertise in overseeing numerous concurrent shipbuilding projects. Raising this level of corporate funding from The Bank and other investors, as well as the ongoing backing of Partners Group, provides us with the means to continue to add to our growing vessel fleet and supports our ambition to be a leading player in the European SOV market.
“The £140million secured today secures the capital required for us to continue our newbuilding programme in the year ahead, whilst providing us with the flexibility to continue to expand these facilities to meet our strategy of 40 new SOVs by 2040.”
Jimmy Williamson, Scottish National Investment Bank executive director said: “The Bank is catalysing support for Scotland’s offshore wind supply chain by enabling companies like North Star to increase focus on providing vital services for offshore wind farms and in supporting their transition to net zero.
“This follows our investment in the Port of Aberdeen, which will continue to act as a hub for North Sea offshore services and, increasingly new offshore wind farms, through its South Harbour expansion.”
Kevin Gilhawley, member of management, private infrastructure Europe, Partners Group, said: "Offshore wind forms part of our thematic focus on decarbonization and we see mission-critical infrastructure support services, such as those provided by North Star, as a high growth subsector. We look forward to partnering with North Star and the group of lenders on its transformational growth plans in the offshore wind sector."
The deal was supported by an advisory team including RBC Capital Markets, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Blackwood Partners, Shepherd & Wedderburn and PwC.