Update 01.05.19: OSCAR WILDE had her home port changed to Limassol (Cyprus) yesterday. She has retained her name though, suggesting she will leave Belfast as OSCAR WILDE rather than under a new name chosen by her new owners.
Update 24.04.19: OSCAR WILDE is expected to leave Belfast within the next couple of weeks for a new chapter in her career in the Mediterranean. At present Belfast Harbour vessel movements shows a planned departure of May 4th, but this is subject to change. Current speculation suggests she will operate on GNV’s Genoa to Olbia route.
Irish Ferries owner Irish Continental Group have confirmed that their 1987-built cruise ferry OSCAR WILDE has been sold. Purchaser MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) will take delivery of the former Rosslare to Cherbourg vessel later in April, and have agreed to pay a total of €28.9m for her. OSCAR WILDE is currently in Belfast Dry Dock having arrived on March 20th for what was originally meant to be a dry docking lasting around a week.
The sale means Irish Ferries parent company ICG has made a significant profit on her net book value of €7.7m. MSC own Italian ferry operators GNV (Grandi Navi Veloci) and SNAV (Società Navigazione Alta Velocità), and it is likely they have acquired the vessel for one of those companies Mediterranean routes.
With the SNAV business now concentrated on high-speed vessels, it is more likely that OSCAR WILDE will enter service for GNV. The purchase price will be paid by MSC in instalments over six years in what is effectively a bareboat hire-purchase arrangement, ending in 2025.
OSCAR WILDE became surplus to requirements at Irish Ferries following the closure of their Rosslare to Cherbourg route in favour of the Dublin to Cherbourg route operated by W.B. YEATS. According to Belfast Harbour vessel movements, OSCAR WILDE is expected to leave Belfast Dry Dock tomorrow evening. Her next destination is currently unclear, though it is possible she will lay over at Belfast before making her way to the Mediterranean.
At present, the Finnish-built vessel remains in full Irish Ferries colours having just received a full repaint during her current dry docking. It possible that when she does leave Belfast it will be the last time she leaves a port in UK or Irish waters.
Irish Continental Group Regulatory Statement:
Released : 11 Apr 2019 07:00
Sale of M. V. Oscar Wilde
Irish Continental Group plc (“ICG”) announces that it has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of the cruise ferry “Oscar Wilde” to MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA.
The total gross consideration for the sale is €28.9 million, payable in instalments over 6 years, up to 2025. Delivery to the buyer is expected to take place during April 2019.
The “Oscar Wilde”, built in 1987, was acquired by ICG in 2007 and was operated by its subsidiary Irish Ferries on the Ireland – France route. The proceeds less the net book value of the Oscar Wilde (€7.7 million) and related disposal costs will result in a profit on disposal which will be reported as part of the 2019 financial results of ICG.