SNCM goes private

Date: 06 Jun 2006 00:00 Source: Lloyd's Register - Fairplay

French ferry operator SNCM is now officially a private company after receiving partial approval from the European Commission for the move and after the company's board welcomed the arrival of private shareholders Veolia Transport and Butler Capital Partners. SNCM's new largest shareholder, private investment fund Butler Capital Partner, will hold 38% of the company. Transport specialist Veolia Transport, which will run SNCM on a day-to-day basis, will be the second largest shareholder with 28%. The French state will retain 25%, under control of the European Commission and for a limited period of time. Finally, 9% will go to the staff. In the longer term, it is expected that Butler and the state will withdraw, leaving Veolia in full command of the company.

For its privatisation, SNCM is receiving a euro142.5M ($182.6M) cash injection from the state and will receive a further euro38M to cover social costs. Four hundred jobs will go without straight redundancies. The EC still has to approve this restructuring plan. SNCM is now hoping to win the concession for the public service delegation governing ferry routes between south France and Corsica. The award is due in mid-August and will see the winner start the new concession early in January 2007. French finance minister Thierry Breton welcomed the privatisation, which marks a new direction for the former public ferry line.

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