Eurotunnel disaster avoided

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UNDERWRITERS of the pounds 858m Eurotunnel rights issue, which closes tomorrow, avoided disaster yesterday despite the sharp sell- off in the stock market, writes Peter Rodgers.

The value of rights to buy Eurotunnel shares fell to 4p at one point as the company's share price came under pressure. Yesterday was the last day of trading for the nil-paid rights.

But they recovered to close 3p down on Friday's close at 10p, with the existing fully-paid shares 5p down at 283p, a new low for the year but 18p above the price of 265p at which underwriters are obliged to pick up the tab.

The three-for-five rights issue was launched on 26 May at a 25 per cent discount to the then market price of 355p as part of a pounds 1.6bn refinancing package. But the discount, regarded as generous at the time, has shrunk dramatically.