Three teams bid for Eurostar stake sale

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Three teams bid for Eurostar stake sale

Three teams have bid for the 40% stake in the Channel Tunnel express train operator Eurostar Group Ltd owned by the UK Government.

The three teams are the following:

  • Singapore's state-backed investment fund GIC
  • China Investment Corporation (CIC).
  • UK private equity firm 3i infrastructure and French life insurance fund Predica.

First-round bids were accepted on 8 December. The transaction agreement is expected to be achieved by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

National railway company of France (SNCF), the French majority shareholder, ruled itself out as a bidder in October. Eurostar International Limited (EIL) is owned by SNCF (55%), London and Continental Railways -UK Government-owned company- (40%) and the state-owned Belgian company, SNCB, owns the remaining 5%.

Eurostar is a high-speed railway service connecting London with Paris and Brussels. All its trains traverse the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel. It carried 9.9 million passengers in 2012 and doubled its operating profit to £52.3 million.

The stake has an estimated value between £300 million (US$471 million) and £500 million (US$785 million).

Eurostar has become the dominant operator in cross-channel intercity passenger travel on the routes that it operates, carrying more passengers than all airlines combined.

The UK Government put its 40 % stake up for sale back in December 2013. In June 2014, the UK shareholding in Eurostar International Limited (40%) was transferred from London and Continental Railways / Department for Transport to HM Treasury. The UK government hired UBS in October this year to run the sale process.

The transaction is part of a £20 billion privatization push to reduce the UK's debt.

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