On Tuesday, the European Commission gave the official green light for the acquisition of the French-Belgian Thalys by the French railway company SNCF.
Until now, Thalys was partially controlled by the Belgian SCNB railway company. According to the Commission, the acquisition will not lead to any distortion of competition, "given the limited impact on the market structure."
The acquisition is part of the merger between the Belgian-based Thalys and Eurostar, which is already controlled by SNCF. In time, the Thalys brand name will disappear and only Eurostar will remain.
Currently, Thalys operates the high-speed trains between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Eurostar connects the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands via the Channel Tunnel.
The merger of the two railway companies had already been announced in 2019, but it was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis. In the autumn of 2021, the project was again put on the agenda. The headquarters of the new company will be in Brussels. France's SNCF will be the majority shareholder, and Belgium's SNCB will manage 18.5% of the shares.
The project was named Green Speed and will connect five countries and 245 million people between France, the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The two companies now employ 2,300 people and have a combined turnover of €1.5 billion.