On 31st October it was announced that the French public passenger transport group Transdev, owned by Veolia and state bank CDC, was to call in loans to its France- Corsica ferry operator subsidiary SNCM the following week, thus pushing SNCM into filing for court protection from insolvency.

Transdev’s owners said that court protection from creditors is the only way to shield the loss-making operation from two separate European Union state aid repayment claims totalling 550 million euros. Once SNCM goes under court protection, a new shareholder could buy some of SNCM’s eight ferries and continue operations under a new legal structure, with some 800 to 1200 of SNCM’s more than 2,000 staff, according to a management plan outlined to Unions in October.

The core Marseille-Corsica ferry route, which is subsidised by the state, and two lines to North Africa could continue but insolvency may spell the end for Nice and Toulon services to Corsica and Sardinia. Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée (SNCM) had been kept alive only by huge injections of cash from the EU and Transdev in addition to route subsidies. Employees have been destroying SNCM over the past few months through relentless industrial action, a plan that can only result in their own downfall as happened with Seafrance.

Earlier in 2014 Baja Ferries, a Mexican ferry company, voiced an intention to buy a 66% stake in SNCM from Transdev. However this has yet to happen and a decision on SNCM’s fate could be made by the end of 2014.

PhotoTransport

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