BA a loser in Eurostar shake-up

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The Independent Online

National Express and BA are to end up with nothing for their investment in Eurostar when the cross-Channel train operator restructures, according to the company's chief executive.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Richard Brown says that under the project to simplify Eurostar's complex ownership, the two shareholders will be left with "nothing to sell".

National Express announ- ced in May that it wanted to sell its 40 per cent stake. BA, which holds 10 per cent, is expected to follow suit.

The companies' involvement in the train operator is through Inter-Capital Regional Rail (ICRR), which manages the UK arm of Euro- star. National Express and BA were selected to manage Eurostar UK in 1998 as part of the Government's £5.5bn rescue of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. At the time, their appointment was hailed as a coup as the companies beat off competition from Virgin.

But under Eurostar's restructuring ICRR will be sidelined. French state railway SNCF will own 55 per cent, London & Continental Railways 40 per cent and Belgium's national railway, SNCB, 5 per cent. In the year to 31 December 2001, ICRR made an operating loss of £2.3m.