Eurotunnel shares suspended after failure to file results

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The Independent Online

Trading in Eurotunnel shares was suspended in London yesterday after the embattled Channel Tunnel operator failed to publish its financial results for last year.

The Financial Services Authority said it had taken the action because the Anglo-French company was in breach of the listing rule requiring companies to report their preliminary results within 120 days of their financial year-end.

The regulator's counterpart in France, where most of Eurotunnel's shareholders are now based, allowed trading to continue. In Paris, the shares closed unchanged at 37 cents (25.4p) amid thin trading.

In London, the shares were suspended at 25p.

Later in the day Eurotunnel issued a statement seeking to dampen speculation that the suspension of its shares meant that an announcement on its long-running debt restruc- turing talks with the banks was imminent.

The group is labouring under £6.2bn of debt and has now been forced to seek three successive waivers of its credit agreement to allow it to continue trading while talks with its creditors - banks and bondholders - progress.

Initially, Eurotunnel was demanding that the banks write off two-thirds of its debt without getting anything in return.

The latest waiver runs until 12 July, although Eurotunnel hopes to be able to make some sort of breakthrough in negotiations by the middle of this month.

The group has now invited all its creditors to take part in the talks. Previously, it was only negotiating with what is known as the "ad hoc committee", a small group of lenders responsible for a little over half of Eurotunnel's debts.

A spokesman for the UK regulator said the only reason the shares had been suspended in London was because of the delay in filing accounts.

Last week there were reports that Nicolas Miguet, the financial tipster who forced out the whole of the previous Eurotunnel board en masse two years, was planning a fresh share-buying spree.

Only four million Eurotunnel shares were traded yesterday in Paris, although there were reports that a block of one million shares changed hands in a single deal.

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