Eurotunnel confirms High Speed 1 bid

Groupe Eurotunnel, the owner of the Channel Tunnel rail link between England and France, has confirmed it is part of a ‘British consortium’ bidding for High Speed 1, the UK’s only high-speed rail line, which runs from London’s St Pancras station to the Tunnel.

In its half-year results announcement, France’s Groupe Eurotunnel (Eurotunnel) said it was part of a “British consortium” bidding to acquire the High Speed 1 rail line, which is being sold by the UK government.

Previous media reports said Eurotunnel was expected to bid alongside Goldman Sachs, which is its largest shareholder, and fund manager M&G. Other possible bidders for the asset, valued at around £1.5 billion (€1.8 billion; $2.2 billion) include Macquarie Bank, 3i, Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and RREEF.

Bloomberg reported Eurotunnel chief executive Jacques Gounon as saying that the consortium that includes Eurotunnel is planning to make its offer by a deadline of 17 August. 

High Speed 1 is currently owned 100 percent by London and Continental Railways, which in turn is owned 100 percent by the UK government’s Department for Transport. The line’s main source of income is the track access charges paid by Eurostar, which runs services between London, the south-east of England, Paris and Brussels. In addition, St Pancras earned more than £10 million last year as a retail outlet.

The Guardian newspaper reported that Citibank has been hired as an adviser to the Department for Transport on the sale, while UBS is representing London and Continental Railways.