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SNCM heads for the private sector

Date: 01 Jun 2006 00:00 Source: Lloyds List

State-controlled French Mediterranean ferry operator SNCM is set to pass into private sector control today following yesterday’s approval by the European Commission of its proposed takeover by Butler Capital Partners and Veolia Transport, writes Andrew Spurrier in Paris .

The company’s existing board is due to approve the takeover, which has just been authorised by French government decree, at a meeting this morning and an SNCM spokesman said the new management team would be taking control immediately afterwards.

Operational management will be in the hands of Veolia Transport, which will have a 28% stake in SNCM alongside investment company Butler Capital Partners, which will be leading shareholder with 38%.

Veolia has already made clear, however, that it expects to become the majority shareholder in the company, notably via the expected withdrawal of Butler Capital Partners after five years.

Gérard Couturier, formerly regional director of Veolia Transport, is to become head of SNCM’s new management board, replacing existing chief executive and former head of the port of Dunkirk authority Bruno Vergobbi.

The French state is to keep a 25% stake in SNCM’s capital, while the company’s employees have been allocated 9%.

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