Eurotunnel forced to sell cross-Channel ferry operation

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Second appeal against Competition and Markets Authority decision fails

Eurotunnel has put its cross-Channel sea operation up for sale after it lost a second appeal against a Competition and Markets Authority ruling to divest its MyFerryLink business.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal upheld a decision that the former Ferry Sea France business should stop operating out of Dover within six months. Combined with tunnel traffic, Groupe Eurotunnel had just under half of all cross-channel custom.

Eurotunnel has decided not to pursue the case further after the failure of its second appeal. The company is confident of finding a buyer for the ferry operation it started in 2012 after acquiring vessels from SeaFrance, after the French firm went into liquidation.

The group said it subcontracted the three-ferry operation to an independent company, the SCOP SeaFrance, but then newly formed Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had warned that a combined Eurotunnel and MyFerryLink would take a dominant share of the cross-Channel market.
Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Groupe Eurotunnel stated: “MyFerryLink is an operating and commercial success. We are proud to have succeeded where so many others have failed. Given the position of the British authorities, the future of MyFerryLink will now be determined outside the Group.”

Back in May 2014, Alasdair Smith, of the CMA, said: “MyFerryLink is making losses and being funded by Eurotunnel. This is causing the current level of competition on the Dover–Calais route to be unsustainable and is likely to lead to the exit of a competitor. It’s much better to have three competing cross-Channel operators – Eurotunnel running the rail link and two independent operators (DFDS Seaways and P&O) on the ferry route.”

In a separate development, Eurotunnel has introduced 4G high-speed internet to its rail tunnel, offering data at up to 10 times faster than the previous 3G network. The firm has worked with EE, O2, Vodafone UK and Bouygues Telecom.