It is understood that other large infrastructure investors and real estate companies have also reigned over PD Ports since the sale process restarted, including Australian asset manager Macquarie, Queensland Investment Corporation and UK firm Peel Holdings.
But potential bidders have also raised concerns over a legal dispute between STDC and PD Ports over access rights to Teesport, which is surrounded by company land.
The company has taken the courts to try to confirm that PD Ports has only one access point, posing a risk to the company as the regeneration project picks up speed and construction begins elsewhere on the site. Sources said competitors would be reluctant to launch their own independent offerings without an agreement on access rights from STDC.
The new tender support team comes after the end of discussions with Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth fund Mubadala over funding a potential tender for the port.
Mubadala is set to finalize a £ 5bn investment pot with the government in sectors such as technology, clean energy and life sciences, but the source of the offer said: decided it wasn’t something they wanted to include in this investment fund’s portfolio.
Sources added that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who spoke with Mr Johnson last December about the increase in investment, is expected to return to Britain in mid- September to finalize the £ 5 billion fund although the Department for International Trade declined to comment.
STDC and town hall declined to comment.