Eurotunnel has won its bid to acquire three SeaFrance ferries against competitors DFDS and Stena.
The decision, taken by the Commercial Court in Paris following the collapse of the SNCF-owned cross-Channel ferry operator, will enable progress on the launch of a new cross-Channel ferry service between Calais and Dover.
The acceptance of Eurotunnel’s offer of €65 million for the Berlioz, the Rodin and freighter Nord Pas de Calais along with other assets, was dependent on SNCF writing off part or all of the approximately €180 million debts owed to it by SeaFrance.
Applauding the decision, Jacques Gounon, chairman and CEO of Groupe Eurotunnel, said: “I am delighted that the pragmatic approach taken by Eurotunnel has convinced the Commercial Court. This will aid economic development and will further support the transport of people and goods between the continent and Great Britain”.
The acquisition of the SeaFrance vessels will be carried out by Eurotransmanche, an entity set up by the Eurotunnel group and working in cooperation with French local council authorities. Eurotransmanche plans to lease the ferries to an independent operating company set up by ex-SeaFrance workers. Eurotunnel expects the deal to generate 500 jobs in the Calais region and about 100 in the UK.
Eurotunnel has specified that before the ferries can re-enter service they will need a technical overhaul to complete scheduled maintenance works that were left unfinished when SeaFrance went into administration.