Eurotunnel says to challenge UK antitrust stance on ferries

PARIS Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:10am GMT

Workers are suspended from ropes as they paint the Eurotunnel logo at the entrance of the channel tunnel in Coquelles December 1, 2010 as Eurotunnel celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Channel Tunnel breakthrough. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Workers are suspended from ropes as they paint the Eurotunnel logo at the entrance of the channel tunnel in Coquelles December 1, 2010 as Eurotunnel celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Channel Tunnel breakthrough.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

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PARIS (Reuters) - Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel said it would challenge a U.K. watchdog's view that its takeover of three ships owned by failed ferry operator SeaFrance would hamper competition on cross-Channel services.

The U.K. Competition Commission said earlier on Tuesday that passengers and freight customers could face higher prices with the arrival of MyFerryLink, a ferry service Eurotunnel launched using the three former SeaFrance vessels.

The group last year branched out into sea transport with the 65 million euro ($87 million) purchase of three of the ships formerly operated by SeaFrance, a unit of French railway operator SNCF that went into liquidation in early 2012.

France's antitrust watchdog cleared the deal in November.

"Eurotunnel intends to continue to work with the Competition Commission to allay the concerns raised by existing ferry operators," Chief Executive Jacques Gounon said in a statement.

Eurotunnel operates the vehicle shuttle services in the Channel tunnel between Britain and France and earns revenue on other freight and passenger trains that pass through the tunnel.

(Reporting by Elena Berton; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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