United Kingdom

UK government to sell 40% shareholding in Eurostar


The UK government has announced that it is to sell its 40% holding in Eurostar and has set a deadline of 30th October for interested investors. The remaining 60% is owned by the French state-owned SNCF (55%) and the Belgian state-owned SNCB (5%).

The high-speed rail line which travels between London, Paris and Brussels carries around 10 million passengers a year using 28 trains and is expected to fetch the government around £300 million. This announcement is part of a £20 billion ($32.2 billion) privatisation package announced earlier this year. The government has been struggling to reduce its public sector deficit and the proceeds of the privatisation package would make a significant dent in the deficit.

The press release concerning the sale of the UK government’s holding in Eurostar as published on the Treasury website is as follows:

“Expressions of interest for UK holding in Eurostar

The government has invited expressions of interest from bidders for the UK government’s 40% shareholding in Eurostar International Limited.

This document contains information about Eurostar and the information needed to register interest in the process for potential bidders.

The Autumn Statement 2013 and National Infrastructure Plan 2013 set out the government’s ambition to achieve £20 billion from corporate and financial asset sales by 2020. Having identified the government’s stake in Eurostar as a possible candidate for sale, the government has now started the sale process:

• any parties interested in purchasing the stake are now invited to come forward, with a deadline of 31 October to respond
• the government’s key objective in a potential sale will be to maximise value for money for the UK taxpayer
• subject to achieving value for money, we would expect to reach definitive agreements in the first quarter of 2015

Eurostar is Europe’s leading international high speed rail operator. Since services began in 1994, Eurostar has carried over 145 million passengers, with over 10 million in 2013 alone, whilst sustaining traffic growth every year for the last decade.

Following the incorporation of Eurostar into its current form in 2010 Eurostar has continued to be highly successful; attracting record passenger numbers, launching new destinations and ordering a new fleet of state of the art trains.

This document comprises the pre-qualification letter necessary to take part in the process and information about Eurostar for potential bidders. The deadline for interested parties to respond to the pre-qualification letter is 12pm on Friday 31 October 2014.”

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