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SeaFrance rescue deal is rejected

Strike disrupts sailings as European Commission says cross-Channel ferry funding plan breaks state aid rules

A RESCUE plan for Channel ferry operator SeaFrance has been rejected by the European Commission as it breaches state aid rules.

The Commission said: "France has been unable to show that the financial contribution of the company was exempt from state aid and reflected market confidence as to its future viability."

It had been planned to boost the funds of the SNCF-owned subsidiary by selling off the ferry Nord Pas de Calais and using the funds, plus €100 million loan from SNCF, to ensure that the Calais-Dover service could continue - and it is this that the Commission has ruled out of order as it was hidden state aid.

Without the deal there are three potential takeover bids for the company.

Today, industrial action in France has disrupted SeaFrance services on the Channel crossing. No other operators are affected.

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