Eurotunnel’s ferry deal runs into competition headwinds

THE COMPETITION Commission yesterday raised concerns that Eurotunnel’s purchase of defunct SeaFrance’s ferries could drive up fares for passengers.

Eurotunnel bought three of SeaFrance’s four boats for €60m (£52m) last year with the aim of launching its own English Channel ferry service. The Office of Fair Trading referred the deal to the watchdog.

The Competition Commission claimed that Eurotunnel decided to acquire the SeaFrance ferries in order to prevent a rival ferry operator buying them, a move that could have driven down prices.

“Given that the company already holds a market share of over 40 per cent, we’re concerned that customers could lose out from Eurotunnel increasing its share even further and being able to raise prices on the tunnel services,” said CC deputy chairman Alasdair Smith.

Eurotunnel, which now runs 16 ferry crossings a day, said it would challenge the finding, saying in a statement that its new brand MyFerryLink would increase competition and bring more choice to customers.