Le Monde reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has intervened in the difficulties facing the ferry company SeaFrance. After a meeting at the Elysée Palace, Sarkozy sent a letter to SNCF, the French rail company that owns SeaFrance, encouraging it to allow the ferry company’s employees to buy the firm out. SeaFrance is bankrupt and last year the European Commission ruled that subsidies the French government paid it through SNCF were illegal under state-aid rules. But an employee buy-out could circumvent these rules, the paper says.
Sarkosy is considering giving their 880 workers redundancy money (which could total over €45m) they would have got so that they can use it to buy out the stricken company. Obviously P&O see this as unfair competition and are readying their lawyers.
If Seafrance does go under expect the others like P&O and the Tunnel to take advantage and put up prices. Motorhomers wanting to cross the channel as cheaply as possible should hope that the buy out of Seafrance is successful. Even if it is a classic example of the French looking after their own.