French ferry company to use bankruptcy to sink EU aid ruling

3rd November 2014, Comments 0 comments

The management of the SNCM ferry company that links Corsica with the French mainland told employees Monday it was filing for bankruptcy, a move which could help it escape an EU aid ruling.

The SNCM has been ordered by the European Commission to pay back more than 400 million euros ($500 million) in what Brussels has judged to be illegal aid from the French state.

Employee representatives on the company's works council said the management announced at a meeting on Monday it intends to put the company in receivership, although the company declined to make a formal announcement.

French public transport operator Transdev and utilities operator Veolia, the two private investors which hold a majority stake in SNCM, have been pushing to place the company in receivership in a bid to free the ferry operator of the obligation to repay the funds and thus path the way for a new buyer.

Transdev's chief executive, Jean-Marc Janaillac, said on France Info radio on Monday that there were five or six serious investors interested in SNCM.

The French government, which owns a 25 percent stake in SNCM, have also endorsed this strategy which however requires negotiations with Brussels.

A 17-day strike in June and July by SNCM employees severely disrupted traffic to Corsica.

The management has said that it would likely keep only 800 to 1,000 of its current 2,000 employees.

© 2014 AFP

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