LATE bids to save cross-Channel ferry firm SeaFrance have been rejected out of hand at a Paris commercial tribunal which decided that the company should be officially liquidated.
However, President Sarkozy told a press conference in Germany - where he is meeting chancellor Angela Merkel - that the government is working on proposals to revive the firm and maintain the jobs of the 880 workers in France and around 100 in the UK.
He said there were two proposals, one from the Scop workers' cooperative and the other is for a new partner to get involved. "I think I can say that there will be a credible solution for all the SeaFrance workers. I will not give up."
Transport Minister Nathaltie Kosciusko-Morizet is to meet staff and liquidators' representatives tomorrow and put the proposals to them before they are revealed publicly.
The commercial tribunal said that the only offer for the company - from the Scop - was not viable. This was despite Sarkozy's proposal last week for the workers to use their redundancy pay to fund the bid.
It was also despite a last-minute announcement by Eurotunnel that it was prepared to buy the SeaFrance ferries and lease them to the coop in a bid to stop the "only French company in the port of Calais" from disappearing.
SeaFrance parent company SNCF - itself a state-owned body - had said it would make €36 million of exceptional funding available to the coop.
Sailings have been suspended since November when the tribunal rejected €200m funding from the government as illegal under EU rules. Customers with pre-existing bookings should contact the following number +44 845 458 0666 to get refunds.
Photo: Remi Jouan