January 14, 2009 / 6:43 PM / in 10 years

Deutsche Bahn says interested in Eurostar stake

BERLIN, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] is interested in taking a stake in Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service linking Britain to mainland Europe, the German railway operator said on Wednesday.

“We have had informative talks with the British ministry about this,” Deutsche Bahn Chief Executive Hartmut Mehdorn told reporters at an event in the German capital.

“Strategically, Deutsche Bahn has a natural interest,” he said, adding, however, that it was too early to talk about any concrete intentions.

Although Deutsche Bahn was exploring the options, no negotiations were taking place, he said.

Eurostar is a joint project involving France, Belgium and Britain.

Britain’s London & Continental Railways (LCR) owns Eurostar UK Ltd, which represents about a third of Eurostar.

LCR, whose principal stakeholder is Britain’s Department for Transport, is open to selling Eurostar UK Ltd.

“We are aware of Deutsche Bahn’s interests and would be interested in hearing their proposal,” said a government spokesman. Plunging markets forced the German government to delay plans for Deutsche Bahn’s partial privatisation last year.

Reporting by Markus Wacket and Victoria Bryan in London; writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Erica Billingham

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