Eurotunnel has made a preliminary submission to run the ports of Calais and Boulogne.
The submission is within the framework of a new 50-year public service concession to be awarded by the Nord Pas-de-Calais Regional Council, which owns the two Channel ports, a source familiar with the tender process has confirmed to Lloyd’s Loading List.com.
However, the source added that that the Côte d’Opale Chamber of Commerce, which currently runs Calais and Boulogne, had also officially declared its interest in operating the new concession.
“It’s not known at this stage whether the two candidates will be acting independently, in tandem or with other partners. Provision is made for the Council to designate the operator of the new Calais-Boulogne ports concession during the course of 2013 or early 2014,” the source said.
The Côte d’Opale Chamber of Commerce declined to comment while no one could be reached at the Regional Council.
In March last year, Lloyd’s Loading List.com reported that Eurotunnel chief Jacques Gounon had proposed to the Chamber and its president, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, that Eurotunnel be a minority partner in the bid for the new concession.
Gounon said:â€ˆ“It is my conviction that the three local structures - the ports of Boulogne and Calais and Eurotunnel, as a dry port - must have a coherent development policy. And why not include the state-owned port of Dunkirk too?”
A Eurotunnel spokesman said: “Our core business being the management of infrastructure, it’s quite natural that we are interested in running these ports.”
Full port management would represent even greater diversification for the Eurotunnel group.
Over the past few years, its rail freight subsidiary, Europorte, has won contracts to manage, operate and maintain rail infrastructure linking a number of French ports to the national network.
The ports include Paris, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, La Rochelle, Dunkirk, Nantes Saint-Nazaire and Le Havre.
Last June, Eurotunnel acquired three ex-SeaFrance ferries which it subsequently leased out to new Calais-Dover cross-Channel operator, My Ferry Link.
The operator of the new ports concession would oversee the Calais 2015 Port Project, piloted by the Regional Council and which is set to attract investment of between €400 million and €500 million.
The major upgrade will include a new 130ha dock within its first phase, in order for the port to be able to accomodate new-generation vessels. The first phase will also include the building an additional 90ha of parking space for trucks and vehicles operating the port.