Paris investigates 'hoax' over Eurotunnel shares

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

The Paris bourse is investigating the share price movements of Eurotunnel, the troubled Channel tunnel operator, because of "rumours" surrounding the company over the past few days. The row followed reports, later retracted, by the state-owned news agency, Agence France-Presse, that Eurotunnel had reached agreement with its creditor bankers to reschedule debts.

Patrick Ponsolle, Eurotunnel's co-chairman, called for the inquiry as he refuted the AFP reports. Mr Ponsolle said it was intolerable that such a story could be distributed without verification.

"I am asking for an inquiry because I mean to protect the interests of shareholders, who cannot be victims of such malevolent acts," he said.

AFP said the report was based on a phone call from a man claiming to work with Eurotunnel's public relations department. It quickly withdrew the story pending a comment from Eurotunnel and subsequently said it had been the victim of a hoax.

Mr Ponsolle said Eurotunnel's head office "has no further comment" at this stage.

The debacle comes at a sensitive time for Eurotunnel, which is dogged by rumours of a renewed financial crisis and speculation that it might embark on another round of fund-raising. The company will shortly meet its 225 banks to discuss whether they might advance fresh funds to keep it afloat.

In London, shares in Eurotunnel plunged 28p to 138p on Monday but recovered yesterday to 147p. In Paris they rose to Fr11.70 from Monday's close of Fr11.05.

The jitters began earlier this month when Eurotunnel announced revenues well below expectations for the first half of the year. Sales in the six months of only pounds 104.5m shocked City analysts, who had been looking for pounds 500m in the year. The view is that the poor figures will inevitably mean a restructuring of the company's debt.

Eurotunnel's interest bill is pounds 2m a day, compared with daily revenues of pounds 600,000. A spokeswoman for the company said yesterday: "We are in talks with banks - we are always in contact with the banks - and we will report in October."

The summer season is vital to Eurotunnel, which is taking market share from the ferry companies in spite of problems with breakdowns and strikes. A successful July and August would give it some ammunition in its discussions with the banks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific