The Times reports that:
Transport for London (TfL) fixed conditions on the sale of Metronet that could not be met by the private sector to ensure that the only option for the troubled company was to return it to the public sector.
The Mayor of London’s transport body removed a government commitment to underwrite 95 per cent of Metronet’s borrowings - without this guarantee no private sector company would consider trying to buy the company out of administration.
Possible buyers, thought to include Bechtel, Ferrovial, Carillion, Serco and rival London Underground contractor Tube Lines, were approached by NM Rothschild to gauge their level of interest.
However, when it became clear that the letter of comfort had been withdrawn, the prospects of a sale evaporated.
If this is the case then it is bad for Londoners all over. As has been proved with Tube Lines, the Underground can be run successfully by a private company - competition can and should be a force for good. Shady deals like this do nothing to inspire confidence in TfL or the Mayor of London.