December 18, 2017 / 11:05 AM / 6 months ago

EU opens investigation into Romania state aid for rail operator

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation on Monday into Romanian state support for rail freight operator CFR Marfa, saying debt write-offs many have given the company an unfair advantage.

The Commission, which oversees competition policy across the European Union, said that rail freight was an essential component of any economy’s transport links.

“CFR Marfa is the incumbent in this market in Romania and has benefited from the cancellation of public debts and the failure of public creditors to collect debts owed by it,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

She added the Commission needed to check whether a private investor would have acted in the same way as the public authorities.

The Commission said it would be looking at a number of support measures in favour of CFR Marfa, including a debt-to-equity swap amounting to 1.669 billion Romanian leu (318.73 million pounds) and the failure to collect social security debts and outstanding taxes since at least 2010.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop

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