After a year of waiting, P&O and Stena, the ferry companies, look set to get the green light for their proposed tie-up from both the UK and European competition authorities this week. A spokesperson for P&O said: "We have heard nothing officially, but all the indications are that there will be an announcement on Wednesday or Thursday."
However, the proposed joint venture, to be called P&O Stena Line, is expected to be allowed to proceed only if the two companies agree to certain conditions designed to alleviate competition authority concerns. The competition authorities are likely to impose caps on brochure prices, to require that P&O and Stena surrender ferry berths at Dover and to insist that the joint venture, which will control around 75 per cent of ferry crossings from Dover, is run separately from the companies' other operations.
A P&O spokesperson said yesterday that it would be premature to speculate about the conditions to be imposed, but admitted that the European authorities, in particular, had been concerned to ensure that the joint venture would be independently run.