PARIS/LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Groupe Eurotunnel, which runs the undersea rail link between Britain and France, is putting its ferry service between the two countries up for sale after a ban on it operating the route was upheld by Britain’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
CAT’s ruling supported a ban brought in by Britain’s antitrust regulator and comes after a long-running probe by the country’s competition authorities into Eurotunnel’s move into the ferry market.
Under the ruling announced on Friday, Eurotunnel now has six months to cease its MyFerryLink operations between France and Britain, with the company saying it would seek a buyer for the business, which it said was run as an independent company.
“Given the position of the British authorities, the future of MyFerryLink will now be determined outside the group,” Chief Executive Jacques Gounon said in a statement.
France’s Eurotunnel started to operate services on the Dover-Calais crossing in 2012 under the MyFerryLink brand, having acquired three ferries from the now-defunct SeaFrance.
The deal added to its presence on the cross-Channel route, where it is operator of the Channel Tunnel, carrying Eurostar high-speed trains between Paris, Brussels and London, as well as shuttle trains containing passenger cars, coaches and freight trucks.
Britain’s anti-trust authorities first said two years ago that Eurotunnel’s involvement in the cross-Channel ferry route was harming competition.
As well as Eurotunnel, Denmark’s DFDS and P&O Ferries also run boats on the Dover-Calais crossing, competing against the rail link for freight and passengers.
Shares in Eurotunnel were up 0.2 percent to 11.02 euros at 1130 GMT. (Reporting by Pascale Denis, Leila Abboud and Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)
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