Eurotunnel denies it faces deadline

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The Independent Online
Eurotunnel yesterday denied its that banks have set it a deadline of tonight to settle its long-running dispute with Transmanche Link, the Anglo-French consortium that built the Channel tunnel.

A spate of stories at the weekend suggested Eurotunnel would face financial crisis this week if it failed to settle its argument with TML over a pounds 1.2bn cost overrun. The two sides have resolved many of their differences but remain pounds 150m apart.

However, a Eurotunnel spokeswoman said there was no such deadline and that existing agreements with the banks would allow the company to continue drawing money until the end of the month.

Eurotunnel is also talking to its banks about a further waiver which will give it the additional money it needs until it is able to reach a settlement with TML.

The spokeswoman added: 'Nothing has happened over the weekend. The discussion is still going on.'

Both TML and Eurotunnel regard it as highly unlikely that the banks would pull the plug on the pounds 8bn project at such a late stage for the sake of a dispute over pounds 150m.

The tunnel is largely complete and much of the remaining work concerns the terminal buildings and transport links.

TML and Eurotunnel are both insisting they will not budge from their existing positions. Eurotunnel is thought to have offered TML a cash payment of about pounds 1bn as well as some form of equity interest.

Asked about the suggestion that the Prime Minister had been drawn into the Eurotunnel talks, Downing Street said it was completely a private matter between the company and its banks.