Eurostar (2)

The government's sale of its stake in Eurostar has been described as "further evidence" of state assets being undervalued by a group of MPs.

Last year, the government sold its 40% stake in the cross-channel train service for around £757 million. At the time, it was roughly double what market experts believed could be raised from the sale.

But in November, the National Audit Office (NAO) claimed that the sale left the taxpayer £2.3 billion out of pocket.

Now, the Public Accounts Committee has said the sale underlines the government's "repeated tendency" to undervalue its assets. It also criticised a two-year delay in the publication of a report evaluating the HS1 rail line, saying the delay meant Parliament was not able to use the data to inform decisions on major projects like HS2.

Meg Hillier, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said the issues "raise serious questions about the government's approach to valuing public assets, as well as its commitment to considering the value for money of public spending on such expensive projects".

Ms Hillier also reiterated concerns over the sale of Royal Mail, which many have said was undervalued when it was floated on the stock exchange. The Treasury set a list price of 330p per share, but that price has since soared.

A Treasury spokesperson said: "The government welcomes the committee's conclusion that the sale of our stake in Eurostar was well-handled and secured a good return for the taxpayer.

"Releasing public assets we no longer need is at the heart of our long-term plan to tackle Britain's debts and boost economic growth, and that's why we've recently identified up to £4.6bn of further asset sales, to help build on the huge progress we've already made."