Eurotunnel banks hold fire

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The Independent Online
Eurotunnel's lead bankers have worked out contingency plans based on eventualities from outright collapse to continuing present lending plans. A banker close to the company said: "We have a list of scenarios from the totally desperate to giving Eurotunnel a blank cheque."

The leading banks plan to monitor Eurotunnel's performance over the summer. The City expects some form of financial restructuring but the banks say it is too early to tell.

Banking sources said the lead banks had not put restructuring proposals of any sort either to Eurotunnel or the syndicate of its 220 lenders.

At the preliminary profits announcement last month, the syndicate agreed a further pounds 300m loan to take the project through to October.

Eurotunnel denied there had been any deterioration in performance since. "We are carrying more cars and freight than we expected to carry at this stage when we made our preliminary announcement."

A banking source said the outcome was "very dependent on what kind of summer the tunnel has. The banks will look not merely at the financial side. Almost more important to the banks is the operations - their efficiency, reliability and whet-her they have the necessary capacity in place."