By Jonathan Davies

The government has sold its 40% stake in the cross-Channel rail operator Eurostar for £757.1m.

Anglo-Canadian group Patina Rail LLP will take control of the government's entire stake, with the French and Belgium national railways owning the remaining 60%.

The consortium is made up of two companies - Canadian-based Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec (CDPQ) and UK-based Hermes Infrastructure. CDPQ will own 30% and Hermes will take a 10%.

The £757.1m figure is much more than was expected by market experts. Many had predicted the government would only be able to generate £300-400m from the sale.

Chancellor George Osborne said: "This is a very good deal - it means we can cut the national debt, it means we can invest in our national infrastructure and it's fantastic value for British taxpayers. It's all part of our long-term plan to secure Britain's future."

The plan to sell the government's stake in Eurostar was outlined in Mr Osborne's 2013 Autumn Statement. Since it was launched in 1994, the Eurostar has carried more than 150 million passengers and more than 10 million in 2013 alone. Its annual passenger numbers have been growing every year for the past 10 years.