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Eurotunnel steps in to help SeaFrance

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Eurotunnel steps in to help SeaFrance
08:12 CET+01:00

Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel has said it is ready to help save troubled ferry company SeaFrance as it struggles to survive.

 

Eurotunnel competes against SeaFrance on the competitive cross-channel route between England and France.

The company told Libération newspaper on Monday that it was a "candidate to be a major shareholder" in the company.

The company's head, Jacques Gounon, told the newspaper Eurotunnel would consider buying three of the largest ships from SeaFrance. These could then be loaned to the workers' cooperative that hopes to run the company.

The Paris commercial court is due to decide on the legality of the proposed co-operative on Monday morning.

Last week President Sarkozy offered his support for the cooperative and suggested that it could be part-financed with workers' redundancy payments. 

This was put to a vote of the company's 800 employees, but only 250 said they would be prepared to support the plan.

SeaFrance competes with the British firm P&O in carrying millions of passengers a year across the world's busiest sea route. Both companies have suffered from competition from the Channel Tunnel since it opened in 1994.

SeaFrance was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and, in 2010, shed 700 jobs and was put into receivership.

The company has been in liquidation since the Paris commercial court rejected bids to save the firm on November 16th.

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