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FERRY BUSINESS: Competition investigation

Eurotunnel’s acquisition of the assets of former ferry operator SeaFrance and the creation of MyFerryLink has been referred by the UK Office of Fair Trading to the Competition Commission which is expected to report back by 14 April 2013.

While recognising that the new service provides benefits to passengers by replacing capacity on the Dover to Calais route which was lost when SeaFrance went into liquidation, the OFT is concerned this could reduce competition in the provision of cross channel services.

But in contrast, the French Competition authorities have already given MyFerryLink the green light. ‘The Competition Authority has cleared subject to commitments, the acquisition by Groupe Eurotunnel SA of certain assets of the company SeaFrance SA. This acquisition fits in part of the liquidation proceedings of SeaFrance, which by the Commercial Court of Paris decided the sale of certain assets of SeaFrance, including three ships,’ said a statement in early November.

Amelia Fletcher, OFT Chief Economist and Decision Maker said: ‘Having efficient and cost-effective transport links between the UK and Continental Europe for passengers and business customers is clearly important. We are concerned that the merger could further strengthen Eurotunnel’s position in the market for cross-Channel transport and prices could go up.’

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