SeaFrance in line of fire for takeover

French shipping giant LD Lines has submitted takeover plans for stricken ferry company SeaFrance.

Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) has revealed its bid to take control of Dover-Calais ferry operator, SeaFrance, and merge it with its own ferry subsidiary LD Lines.

But SeaFrance's parent company has issued a statement saying it is taking "all the necessary measures to guarantee its long-term future".

It said no offer had yet been made by LD Lines.

Meanwhile, LDA is confident jobs could be safeguarded through the creation of an enlarged group, which would bear the name of SeaFrance but incorporate LD Lines’ Portsmouth-Le Havre, Newhaven-Dieppe, Dover-Boulogne and Dover-Dieppe network of ferry services.

The news comes just days after the launch of LD Lines' twice-daily service between Dover and Boulogne and once-daily service between Dover and Dieppe.

The Dover – Boulogne sailing frequency will increase from two to six return sailings daily from July 1 2009 when LD Lines introduces a second ship to the route.

SeaFrance announced earlier this week it was to slash up to 650 jobs - more than a third of its workforce.

A statement from parent company SNCF said it believed in the future of SeaFrance in the cross-Channel market and.

It continued: "As a responsible 100 per cent shareholder, (we plan) to take all the necessary measures to guarantee its long-term future."

The statement said it supported the recovery plan, proposed by the President of the company’s board of directors and presented to staff earlier this week.

It was anxious to confirm, it said, that, as of today, it had not received any formal offer takeover proposals for SeaFrance and/or its staff.

• Read the story Hundreds of jobs to go at SeaFrance>>>

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