Sir Alastair may get honorary Tunnel title

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The Independent Online
Sir Alastair Morton, who retires as co-chairman of Eurotunnel in three weeks, may be given the title of honorary president in recognition of his pivotal role in getting the Channel Tunnel built and rescuing it from its financial crisis.

The idea of conferring the role of President D'Honneur on Sir Alastair is understood to be under examination although no decision has been reached. The principle of awarding such a title to men and women who have made an outstanding contribution to a company's fortunes is well established in France.

The trend is increasingly crossing the Channel. Lord King of Wartnaby was made honorary president of British Airways in recognition of his contribution in leading the airline into the private sector. Lord Weinstock, who handed over the reins at GEC last month after 30 years at the helm of Britain's most prominent engineering company, has been made chairman emeritus.

Sir Alastair joined Eurotunnel in the spring of 1987 and is widely credited with pulling off the pounds 770m share issue later that year. Without the equity issue, bank funding for the Tunnel would not have been forthcoming and the project would have collapsed.

Since then he has steered Eurotunnel through one financial crisis after another, fighting the company's corner against both its contractors and its banks, culminating in this week's agreement to reschedule its pounds 8.7bn debt mountain.