Eurotunnel is holding out hope that a compromise will be reached between French and UK regulators over its move into the cross-Channel ferry sector.
The UK Competition Commission last month issued provisional findings saying that Eurotunnel’s MyFerryLink arm, created from the ashes of defunct SeaFrance, created “a substantial lessening of competition” in the market.
Its proposed remedy was a wholesale divestiture of the business.
However, the French competition watchdog cleared the purchase of the three ex-SeaFrance ferries, saying only that the Channel tunnel operator could not offer rail-and-ferry package deals on freight for five years, since such deals would dent competition.
Eurotunnel chairman and chief executive Jacques Gounon said that a “compromise was possible” between the two regulators even if the commission’s final conclusion – due in April – was in line with the provisional findings.
“We are waiting for reasonable constraints,” he told the Financial Times, adding that Eurotunnel would appeal against a forced sale if a compromise was not reached.
The Competition Commission said: “We are continuing our discussions with Eurotunnel and other parties. We will come to our final decision independently in due course.”
Gounon’s remarks came as Eurotunnel announced full-year results for 2012 with net profits up by almost 80% to €34 million, on revenues 16% higher at €1.02 billion.
He estimated sales from MyFerryLink should hit €50 million for 2013.
In four months of operating last year, it earned €7 million in revenues, the bulk of which came from transporting cars, camper vans, caravans and motorcycles. But €20 million in operating costs meant the division was lossmaking.
Eurotunnel said the strong passenger growth in 2012 to hit record levels was unlikely to be repeated this year because of an absence of events like the Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics.
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