Associated British Ports Holdings plc (ABP) says it has made a “satisfactory” start to the year, helped by several new timber sector investments at its core UK ports.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, ABP group chief executive Bo Lerenius said the firm had added £5m worth of revenue-related investments since the release of its 2003 annual results in February.

It is spending £1.3m on timber facilities at the Port of Grimsby and Immingham for existing customers. This comprises a £750,000 investment for Humber Timber Terminals Ltd; £175,000 on a timber treatment facility for Rowlinson Timber Ltd; and £375,000 on an import service centre for Stora Enso.

ABP has also committed £500,000 to expand timber and steel facilities at the Port of Hull for Marshall Maritime Services Ltd.

Mr Lerenius said: “While any significant improvement in the general economic climate remains uncertain, I am pleased to report that we have made a satisfactory start to 2004 following the increased growth that we achieved during the second half of 2003.”

Meanwhile, the government’s decision not to approve ABP’s £600m plans to build a deep water terminal at Dibden initially sent the company’s shares tumbling by 11%. ABP has announced a £100m share buy-back plan and is to invest more than £400m in other developments during the next 10 years.