The European Commission today rejected plans for SeaFrance to be given a €100 million loan as part of a restructuring plan for the troubled ferry company. The Commission said such a loan would break EU state-aid rules.
SNCF, France’s national railway operator, had offered to loan SeaFrance the €100m to help the company restructure its operations. SNCF owns 100% of the ferry company. As SNCF is state-owned, the Commission had to decide whether the loan was acceptable under state-aid rules.
The Commission said the loan would not be in line with EU rules on restructuring aid. Restructuring schemes involving state-aid must include a contribution from a private investor to prove viability.
The Commission was supposed to take a decision on whether the loan complied with state-aid rules on 19 October. But it gave the French authorities until today to see if a private investor could be found.
SeaFrance, which operates ferries between Calais and Dover, has been in financial difficulties since 1996.
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