World

Britain sells interest in Eurostar for $1.1 billion; investors buy 40 percent stake

FILE In this Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014 file photo, Eurostar staff take part in a run through of their presentation prior to the launch of the new Eurostar e320 train at St Pancras station in London. Britain’s government agreed Wednesday, March 4, 2015 to sell its stake in Eurostar, the high-speed rail service that connects London, Paris and Brussels, for 757 million pounds ($1.1 billion), wrapping up a major deal months before the general election. The Treasury said Wednesday a group of international investors, Canada’s Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and U.K.-based Hermes Infrastructure, agreed to buy the government's 40-percent stake for 585.1 million pounds. Eurostar agreed to redeem the government's preference share for an additional 172 million pounds. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

FILE In this Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014 file photo, Eurostar staff take part in a run through of their presentation prior to the launch of the new Eurostar e320 train at St Pancras station in London. Britain’s government agreed Wednesday, March 4, 2015 to sell its stake in Eurostar, the high-speed rail service that connects London, Paris and Brussels, for 757 million pounds ($1.1 billion), wrapping up a major deal months before the general election. The Treasury said Wednesday a group of international investors, Canada’s Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and U.K.-based Hermes Infrastructure, agreed to buy the government's 40-percent stake for 585.1 million pounds. Eurostar agreed to redeem the government's preference share for an additional 172 million pounds. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)  (The Associated Press)

Britain's government has agreed to sell its stake in Eurostar, the high-speed rail service that connects London, Paris and Brussels, for 757 million pounds ($1.1 billion), wrapping up a major deal months before the general election.

The Treasury said Wednesday a group of international investors, Canada's Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and U.K.-based Hermes Infrastructure, agreed to buy the government's 40-percent stake for 585.1 million pounds. Eurostar agreed to redeem the government's preference share for an additional 172 million pounds.

Treasury chief George Osborne said the sale was "a fantastic deal for UK taxpayers that exceeds expectations," but critics described it as a fire sale of an important national asset.

CDPQ manages public pension funds. Hermes Infrastructure is a fund managing about 3 billion pounds for its clients.