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DOVER STRAIT: Joint DFDS-LDA bid for SeaFrance

DFDS and LD Lines owners Louis Dreyfus Armateurs have made a bid for the assets of SeaFrance, subject to conditions including approval by relevant competition authorities. If successful, DFDS and LDA will form a jointly owned company, with DFDSas majority shareholder, which will also incorporate the DFDSservice from Dover to Dunkirk and four ferryroutes currently operatedbyLDLines.

The move follows a request from the receiver that bids for SeaFrance should be made by 26 July, over a year after the company went into receivership, in June 2010.

SeaFrance handled 2.9 million passengers and 551,000 freight units in 2010 and currently deploy ro-pax vessels SeaFrance Berlioz, SeaFrance Moliere and SeaFrance Rodin between Dover and Calais but recently announced plans to withdraw freight vessel SeaFrance Nord Pas-de-Calais.

LD Lines provide conventional and seasonal high-speed services from Portsmouth to Le Havre and operate the Newhaven-Dieppe crossing, in addition to freight routes from St Nazaire to Gijon and in the Med between Marseille and Tangiers.

Despite worries over its long-term future, SeaFrance has started a priority loading and disembarkation service for vehicle passengers. For an introductory £8, a ‘Rapide’ service allows car drivers to be the first to board their vessel.

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