Eurotunnel `may never repay debts' - Business - News - The Independent

Eurotunnel `may never repay debts'

Sir Alastair Morton, co-chairman of Eurotunnel, has told banks they must slash the interest rates and fees they charge on the tunnel's pounds 9bn of loans.

Announcing losses last year of pounds 925m, Sir Alastair said yesterday that Eurotunnel had warned the banks that the company may never be able to repay its debts during the entire 57 years left for its concession.

The company said it had told the banks and the two mediators appointed by the French courts that negotiations "should not be based on any assumptions that cash flows over the life of the concession will necessarily be sufficient to repay the banks their principal plus interest, at the levels currently in the credit agreements, plus interest and penalties payable thereon."

Sir Alastair made clear that the comment was aimed principally at persuading the banks to cut their profit margins.

Eurotunnel currently pays its banks a margin of more than 1.6 percentage points above the standard London interbank interest rates on its debts.

Sir Alastair said this margin was appropriate for a project in its construction phase but not for one that is complete and has 57 revenue-earning years ahead. He called this one of the main sticking points with the banks. "Nobody should plan to get project financing rates for the next 57 years" he added.

Eurotunnel, which yesterday replaced SBC Warburg with Kleinwort Benson as its UK broker, also pays substantial fees to its 225 banks. These included pounds 45m in the fourth quarter of last year as a result of the suspension of payment of interest on pounds 8.1bn of the pounds 9bn debts.

Sir Alastair insisted that there would still be equity left for shareholders once the debt restructuring with the banks was completed.

A shutdown or receivership did neither the banks nor Eurotunnel any good. Refusing to discuss the negotiations with the banks in any detail before the annual meeting in June, he said: "One thing we won't do is swap debt into equity and go away." However, he conceded that a debt-for-equity swap could form a part of a more complex package.

Sir Alastair repeated his claims that the Anglo-French nature of the company - two-thirds of whose shares are owned in France - gave special protection under French law to shareholders. He said: "Shareholders have to vote on any solution other than a shutdown and the process of moving towards that vote is overseen on an informal basis by the mandataires ad hoc."

These are two court appointees, Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, and Robert Badinter, former French Minister of Justice.

To rub home the point against the banks that this is not an ordinary corporate rescue, Sir Alastair said: "An Anglo-Saxon shutdown and sell- off just does not do them any good in this case."

He believed that when an outline deal was reached with the 26 lead banks - which is unlikely before the autumn - "there is going to be something for the banks and something for the shareholders or there is not going to be a deal - and everybody wants a deal."

Although the shares slipped 4p to 69p yesterday, Sir Alastair insisted that the pounds 925m loss was no surprise, and was foreseeable from the numbers the company had given at the interim results in the autumn.

Last year, after bank fees of pounds 60m and depreciation of pounds 136m Eurotunnel lost pounds 200m before interest. The pounds 925m overall loss was reached after interest charges of pounds 768m, of which pounds 118m is a charge for bank interest unpaid since the standstill on 14 September.

Comment, page 19

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Training Coordinator / Resource Planner - City, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week