UK government sells Eurostar stake for £757.1m
THE UK government has announced that it is selling its 40% stake in the cross-Channel train operator Eurostar to an Anglo-Canadian consortium for £757.1m.
Under the deal, Patina Rail LLP will acquire the UK Treasury’s entire share of the high-speed rail service.
The French and Belgian national railways continue to own the rest.
The intention to sell was first set out in 2013, in the government’s Autumn Statement and National Infrastructure Plan.
Chancellor George Osborne said the stake had fetched “far more than people expected we’d be able to sell it for”.
He added: “This is a very good deal – it means we can cut the national debt, it means we can invest in our national infrastructure and it’s fantastic value for British taxpayers. It’s all part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.”
The consortium is made up of two companies: Canadian-based Caisse de Depot et Placement du Qurebec (CDPQ) and the UK’s Hermes Infrastructure. When the deal goes through, they will own 30% and 10% of Eurostar respectively.
Eurostar began service in 1994 as a partnership between three railway companies: France’s SNCF, Belgium’s SNCB and British Rail (subsequently LCR).
Since then, Eurostar has carried more than 145 million passengers, with more than 10 million in 2013 alone. Numbers have risen every year for the past 10.
In September 2010, it became a single, unified corporate entity owned by three shareholders: SNCF, SNCB and LCR.
In June 2014, the UK government’s holding was transferred from LCR to the Treasury.
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