The government today agreed to sell its stake in Eurostar to a consortium of British and Canadian pension and infrastructure funds for £757.1 million.
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 high speed cross-channel passenger rail operator was put up for sale last autumn as part of a plan to raise £20 billion from asset sales by the end of the decade.
The sum exceeds expectations for the 40% stake when the government announced that it was inviting offers for its stake in October, the Treasury said.
The remainder of Eurostar is owned by French state-owned rail operator SNCF, which controls 55%, and its Belgian counterpart.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “It’s great that we have reached an agreement to sell the UK’s shareholding in Eurostar that delivers a fantastic deal for UK taxpayers that exceeds expectations.
“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.”
Macky Tall, senior vice president, private equity and infrastructure at CDPQ, said: “Today we are investing in one of Europe’s most efficient intercity transport systems.
“In terms of reliability and satisfaction, Eurostar is state-of-the-art and among the most enviable worldwide. It serves as a model for operational efficiency and we intend to be a partner in its growth for many years to come.”
Head of Hermes Infrastructure, Peter Hofbauer, said: “Eurostar is a high quality asset providing a direct link between the UK and Europe that has historically offered attractive investment characteristics, including long-term stable and predictable cash flows.
“We look forward to creating a long-term partnership with SNCF and SNCB and other key stakeholders in relation to this important investment.