SeaFrance CEO dies hours after DFDS takeover

Didier Capelle dies of heart attack hours after Danish company buys Eurotunnel ferries

Didier Capelle, the head of Scop SeaFrance, died on Monday of a suspected heart attack just hours after Danish shipping company DFDS took advantage of SeaFrance’s poor economic situation to buy major ferry routes between France and England.

Capelle’s death came a day after Eurotunnel’s announcement that it was selling two of its three ships – Berlioz and Rodin, which are operated by MyFerryLink – to DFDS rather than its commercial offshoot Scop Sea France.

Hours before his death, the CEO of Eurotunnel had informed Capelle by telephone of his decision to sell the two ships to its competitor DFDS.

However, despite widespread rumours claiming Capelle’s cause of death was self-inflicted, prosecutors in Boulogne-sur-Mer were quick to assert that Capelle did not, in fact, commit suicide.

DFDS wins battle over Eurotunnel
After long negotiations, DFDS has taken advantage of Eurotunnel’s legal quarrel to purchase two MyFerryLink ferries for an undisclosed amount.

In a statement released shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, DFDS said: “DFDS has made a binding offer to Eurotunnel concerning the charter or purchase of the ferries Rodin and Berlioz – with takeover effective from 2 July 2015 based on terms agreed with Eurotunnel.”

Channel of controversy
For several years, services crossing the English Channel have been the centre of a dispute. Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel, bought the ferries from the bankrupt SeaFrance and put them on the route between England and France where they were operated by its company MyFerryLink.

However, due to a protracted conflict, Eurotunnel was forced to reluctantly sell the ferries to their competitor DFDS, rather than back to their partner SeaFrance.

Eurotunnel reports it would rather have sold the ferries to the now employee-owned SeaFrance, but the offer was not good enough.

“We regret that the Scop SeaFrance has not had the support it needed to be able to present a takeover proposal,” Eurotunnel said in a press release.

The value of the deal has not yet been disclosed. However, analysts have estimated the price is on the plus side of 50 million euros.