Nfld. & Labrador

Kiewit rejects deal to sell Marystown Shipyard to St. John's businessman

A proposed deal for Kiewit to sell its long dormant Marystown Shipyard to St. John's businessman Paul Antle has fallen through.

Paul Antle, owner of Newdock, had been in talks to purchase the property

The shipyard in Marystown has been idle since December 2015. (Google)

A proposed deal for Kiewit to sell its long dormant Marystown Shipyard to St. John's businessman Paul Antle has fallen through.

​Antle, who owns Newdock in St. John's, says he signed a deal in principle with Peter Kiewit and Sons to purchase the shipyard in December.

But when his company determined the property needed more work than previously thought, Antle sent a counteroffer, which he says was rejected point blank.

"The price we had arrived at in December 2017 was subject to due diligence. We undertook many months and different types of reports — structural, environmental, appraisals — all that sort of stuff," said Antle on Wednesday.

"The site was not usable in its current form and therefore the value was significantly lower than we had originally been led to believe."

Paul Antle, president and CEO of Pluto Investments Inc, said Kiewit rejected his company's counter offer on the property.

Antle, who ran for the provincial Liberal leadership in 2013, doesn't understand the full reasoning behind Kiewit's decision to drop negotiations all together.

"I'm surprised that a large company like Kiewit just terminated and didn't want to negotiate any further," he said.

"We were probably one of the strongest matches for Marystown that has come along in recent years and I have no idea where or how they believe there is going to be someone else."

Over the past few years, there's been at least three prospective buyers for Marystown Shipyard that have failed to reach a deal with Kiewit on the property.

The Hebron drilling support module getting ready to leave Marystown. (Bridget Simms/Submitted)

In a email sent to CBC News, Kiewit said Antle's counteroffer was less than 10 per cent of the price he previously agreed to.

While it would not publicly discuss specifics, Kiewit said there are multiple other interested buyers in the property.

MHA says Kiewit has social responsibility to sell

At the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Placentia West-Bellevue MHA Mark Browne said he was extremely disappointed in Kiewit's decision to pass on the proposed sale.

He said its decision to leave the shipyard dormant is leaving "hundreds of stable, year-round jobs" on the table.

MHA Mark Browne is not pleased with Kiewit's decision to walk away from the negotiating table. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

"This was a facility that was built by the taxpayers of this province, was sold by the government of the day at the time, and there's an opportunity here to put hundreds of local jobs back into Marystown," he said.

"And Kiewit has taken the approach that they're not going to sell to an interested buyer? I'm very disappointed in this, as are all my constituents."

Browne also criticized the way Kiewit has treated the property since purchasing the facility.

He suggested that if the shipyard had not been allowed to deteriorate, there would be a bigger opportunity for the company to profit on a sale.

Browne added that he believes the company has a social responsibility to sell the property.

"I am urging Kiewit. Get back to the table and cut a deal on the Marystown Shipyard. We want people to go back to work."

The shipyard has been dormant since Dec. 2015.

With files from Terry Roberts