Veolia Retakes Control of Corsica Ferry Company

Posted by Eric Haun
Monday, May 12, 2014

The board of France-Corsica ferry operator SNCM on Monday voted out its chief executive who had sided with trade unions, allowing shareholder Veolia to retake control and restructure the loss-making firm.

Veolia wants to put Societe Nationale Corse Mediterranee under court protection to shield it from a European Commission order to repay 440 million euros ($605 million) of state aid and is looking for a buyer of a restructured SNCM.

Transport firm Transdev - itself a 50-50 joint venture between Veolia and state-backed Caisse des Depots (CDC) - owns 66 percent of SNCM but Transdev has not been able to impose its will at SNCM because the ferry company's chief executive and board chairman have sided with its unions and ignored instructions of their employer.

Transdev said it will appoint a new SNCM chief executive shortly and look for a solution for the firm, which has piled up losses for more than a decade and would go bankrupt if the EU order were executed.

"We want to allow SNCM to build a future, which involves neither a liquidation nor a jump into the dark," Transdev chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac said in a statement.

An earlier attempt to oust SNCM board chairman Gerard Couturier failed as the French state representatives did not back the private shareholders, but Monday's vote to not renew the mandate of Chief Executive Marc Dufour succeeded as the state representatives abstained in the vote.

"It is normal that the management of a company can work in confidence with its principal shareholder," Transport Minister Frederic Cuviller said in a statement.

He added that the government would keep a close eye on the new management's plans for SNCM.

Veolia has said the old management's plan to buy four new ships at a total cost of up to 800 million euros was not realistic as it was based on unrealistic forecasts for ferry traffic growth and the firm lacks financing.

Both Veolia and CDC have said they will put no more new money into SNCM.

Last month, Transdev said it was in talks with Norway's Siem Shipping about the sale of its stake in the ferry operator but specified a sale would depend mainly on finding a solution for the state aid the Commission wants SNCM to repay.

Veolia argues the only way to shield SNCM from repayment is through court protection. SNCM's unions say the government and SNCM's appeal against the EU ruling can succeed and SNCM needs more time. They also want the government to renationalise SNCM by getting CDC to take a direct stake in the firm.

SNCM's CFE-CGM had warned the state against a decision that would give "free hand to a failing shareholder" and "opens to door to a rapid dismantling of the company".

The SNCM saga is a thorn in the side of the socialist government of President Francois Hollande, who fears social unrest in Marseille with European elections just two weeks away.

Local politicians in Marseille led by conservative mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin have called on the state to help SNCM, which employs 2,600 staff and provides work for some 2,400 suppliers.

Ahead of SNCM's partial privatisation in 2006, there were weeks of strikes and protests in Corsica and Marseille.

"The French government is petrified by the thought of a major social conflict that would paralyse Marseille," French daily Le Parisien quoted an insider as saying.

($1 = 0.7269 Euros)

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq. Editing by Jane Merriman and David Evans)

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter January 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

First Women's Expedition to the Arctic

Company "MyArctic-expeditions" organize the first women's expedition to the Arctic Ocean. The expedition will start on March 5 in the capital of the Nenets Autonomous

Topaz Responder Saves Refugee Migrants

Topaz Energy and Marine has emerged as an unlikely player in the effort to save refugee migrants risking their lives on the sea crossing from Turkey to Greece’s islands in order to reach Europe.

MHI's Entity to Oversee Material Handling Equipment, Engine and Turbocharger Businesses

Today Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) decided in principle to launch a new wholly owned entity to integrally oversee its current businesses in material

Finance

Sardines Boost Murmansk Port Turnover

In January 2016 turnover of the Murmansk Marine Fishing Port reached 22 thousand tons of cargo, including 15 thousand tons of fish. This is higher than last year,

COSCO Plans European Transhipment Hub

China's COSCO is forging ahead with a plan to build a European transhipment hub, reports Reuters. The state owned shipping giant is expected to make an offer for

MISC Bhd: Revenue Up

Malaysia International Shipping Corporation Berhad (MISC Berhad), a shipping arm of Petronas, has seen an increase of 12.3 percent in its net profit for the 2015

Passenger Vessels

World's Richest Travellers Prefer Panama

According to AFP Relaxnews, Panama saw the most growth in interest among the world’s richest jetsetters for travel this winter and spring.   Panama saw the most

Peak Shipping Season Is Approaching For United Yacht Transport

Spring is the busiest season for United Yacht Transport, the North American leader in boat transport. The international boat transporters are set to complete various shipments in the upcoming months.

SS United States to Sail Again

Crystal Cruises reaches deal to restore the record-breaking and storied SS United States to a fully operational modern luxury cruise ship   Crystal Cruises has

News

First Women's Expedition to the Arctic

Company "MyArctic-expeditions" organize the first women's expedition to the Arctic Ocean. The expedition will start on March 5 in the capital of the Nenets Autonomous

Topaz Responder Saves Refugee Migrants

Topaz Energy and Marine has emerged as an unlikely player in the effort to save refugee migrants risking their lives on the sea crossing from Turkey to Greece’s islands in order to reach Europe.

Sardines Boost Murmansk Port Turnover

In January 2016 turnover of the Murmansk Marine Fishing Port reached 22 thousand tons of cargo, including 15 thousand tons of fish. This is higher than last year,

Government Update

Canada Says Lifting Some Sanctions Against Iran

The Canadian government said on Friday it was lifting some sanctions against Iran, including the broad ban on financial services, imports and exports, making Canadian

China to Enforce Low Sulphur ECA in Yangtze River Delta

Vessels calling ports in China’s Yangtze River Delta, including Shanghai, will be required to burn low sulphur fuel while at berth from April 1 this year.   China’s

COSCO Also Eyes Greek Train Network

China's COSCO already the sole bidder for Greece's Piraeus Port. Buying both would give COSCO a European transhipment hub. China's COSCO is expected to make

Ferries

IMO Head to Address Interferry Conference

New IMO secretary-general to give keynote speech at trade association Interferry’s 41st annual conference in Manila this October   Korea’s Kitack Lim, whose term

More Strikes Planned at Greek Ports

A new 24-hour general strike in Greece is planned for February 4, by both public and private sector unions, while the Seamen’s Union is scheduling another 48-hour strike on the same date,

New Passenger Boarding Bridges for Port Canaveral

ADELTE, a provider of Seaport Passenger Boarding Bridges (SPBBs) and Global Services to cruise and ferry terminals, has been awarded two contracts by the Canaveral Port Authority to design,

 
 
Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1263 sec (8 req/sec)