France-Corsica Ferry Operator Takeover Cleared


By Reuters 2015-12-01 15:45:56

The European Commission has approved the takeover of troubled France-Corsica ferry operator SNCM by Corsican entrepreneur Patrick Rocca, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

In the letter dated November 27 to French junior transport minister Alain Vidalies, European Commission antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said a takeover by Rocca would guarantee the required "economic discontinuity" between SNCM's old and new shareholders and clear the way for the Commission to withdraw its 2013 order that SNCM repay 440 million euros worth of illegal state aid.

The ruling clears the way for SNCM majority shareholder Transdev, jointly owned by water and waste group Veolia and French state bank CDC, to sell SNCM.

The company has been under court protection since late 2014, when it failed to repay a loan to Transdev, which owns 66 percent of SNCM. An SNCM sale would allow Veolia and CDC to unwind their Transdev 50-50 joint venture.

On Tuesday SNCM unions also said an agreement had been reached under which Rocca will make 583 of SNCM's 1,500 staff redundant.