£750 million sale of Eurostar 'industrial vandalism'
The Government will make nearly £760 million after confirming that it will sell its take in Eurostar to a consortium of British and Canadian pension and infrastructure funds, but rail unions have been quick to criticise the move, calling it an act of “Thatcherite industrial vandalism.”
Under the agreement Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) and Hermes Infrastructure have agreed to acquire the Government’s 40% holding for £585.1 million.
In addition, Eurostar will redeem the Government’s preference share, raising a further £172 million.
The stake in the cross-channel rail link operator was put up for sale last autumn as part of a plan to raise £20 billionn from asset sales by the end of the decade.
Eurostar, which launched its inaugural service in 1994, has seen a surge in demand, with more than 10 million passengers travelling on its trains in 2013 alone.
Chancellor George Osborne said it was “a fantastic deal” for UK taxpayers that exceeds expectations.
He said: “Investing in the best quality infrastructure for Britain, getting the best value for money for the taxpayer and tackling our country’s debts are key parts of our long term economic plan, and in today’s agreement, we are delivering on all three”.
However, rail unions accused him of putting short term financial gain ahead of the travelling public.
Mick Cash, leader of the RMT union, said: “The news today that the Government has reached a deal to sell off the British slice of our cash-generating Eurostar assets before the May election is pure Thatcherite industrial vandalism that makes us a laughing stock across Europe”.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Clare Burnett .
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