Ireland-based accountant and consultant Moore Stephens Nathans has been appointed auditor to the group of companies recently set up under the name Fastnet Line to operate a new passenger and freight ferry link between Swansea in Wales and Cork in Ireland. The service is scheduled to begin on March 1, 2010, providing the first crossing since 2006.
The cessation of the old Swansea-Cork ferry operation in 2006 caused an estimated annual loss of $51.7 to businesses in Ireland, which relied on the service to bring large numbers of UK and EU tourists into the south-west of the country. Since the service ended, a number of lobby groups in both Ireland and Wales have been campaigning for a return of the ferry link, the absence of which has involved an additional three-to-four hours’ travel from Rosslare, the closest alternative port to Cork, for motorists and hauliers. The new year-round service will take approximately ten hours and will offer most hauliers and motorists a round-trip saving of more than 600km over alternative sea crossings.
To operate the service, Fastnet Line has acquired the 1982-built ferry Julia at a cost of $11.5m, $9.3m of which was funded by Aktia Bank in Finland. The 505.2-ft long vessel has capacity over ten decks for 1,860 passengers, 440 cars and 30 trailers, with more than 300 passenger cabins. It has most recently been operating between Helsinki and St Petersburg.
Ned Murphy, a partner with Moore Stephens Nathans, said, “There has been a strong and growing demand for the Swansea-Cork ferry operation to be resurrected, and we are delighted to be involved in the project as auditors on behalf of the investors. Approximately Euros2.5m was raised as equity from a share subscription in the West Cork Tourism Co-op, with each member contributing Euros10, 000. An additional Euros2.5m is expected to be raised, primarily for working capital purposes, by way of secured bonds in slots of Euros50, 000, each returning a coupon (interest payment) of ten per cent per annum, repayable after four years.
“The Fastnet Line is set to have a very positive impact on the economy of south-west Ireland when it begins operating in March next year. Provisional projected turnover for 2010 is Euros8.9m, rising to Euros12.1m in 2013.”