European Commission gives green light for SNCF Eurostar acquisition
The European Commission (EC) has given conditional approval to French state railway operator SNCF to acquire full control of Eurostar international Ltd.
Eurostar has been a jointly controlled venture between SNCF Mobilites (the French railway passenger arm), the UK Treasury and SNCB (the Belgian state railway) since 2010, with each party holding 55%, 40% and 5% shareholdings respectively.
The Commission found that the original merger plan would have hindered competition between London and Paris, and between London and Brussels (since Eurostar is currently the only operator).
The EC has imposed the following conditions to ensure that new entrants will not suffer discriminatory access to Eurostar, SNCF and SNCB facilities: (1) for access to standard and cross Channel areas and services (including ticket offices and passenger information services) in France and Belgium; (2) for access to maintenance centres in the UK, France and Belgium; and (3) for access to peak time Eurostar train paths if they are unavailable through the usual channels.
The development follows the decision by the UK government to dispose of its 40% Eurostar shareholding in March.