Published: 12:43, 16 November 2011
Troubled SeaFrance is set to be wound up if a new buyer cannot be found within weeks.
The ailing cross-Channel operator faces liquidation after a French court ruled out two bids for the company - from DFDS/LD Lines and a management/trade union co-operative.
Both were considered far too low, but the Commercial Court left the door open for new offers by December 12.
It declared SeaFrance bankrupt, but permitted it to continue operations until January 28.
Staff welcomed the court's decision.
"This solution gives a hope of a recovery by the employees," said Fouad Barbouch, counsel for the CFDT union and its recovery plan.
The court's decision "gives us time to continue to seek funding for the plan," he added.
A SeaFrance spokesman said it would "enable the alternatives to be fully explored and any new offers received".
Yesterday the company suspended all ferry services between Dover and Calais in order to "safeguard the security of the passengers, crews, vehicles and ships".
Passengers were offered sailings on other cross-Channel operators instead.
DFDS said it would consider its "potential next steps."
SeaFrance has been in administration since June 2010 and axed 700 jobs. More than 800 jobs are now at risk if the operator collapses, including around 200 in Dover.
For full story, see our Kent Business website.