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Tunnel debt sold on at 37%


One of the bank lenders to Eurotunnel, the struggling operator of the Channel Tunnel, has sold its pounds 5m debt in the company on the secondary market for 37 per cent of its value.

According to secondary debt market dealers this is the lowest price the debt has reached in the market.

Gary Klesch, whose company is a key trader in the secondary bank debt market, said: "I see the price going lower still because there is a potential overhang of debt, especially bearing in mind the fact that one-third of it is owned by the Japanese banks, many of whom are keen to sell."

According to Mr Klesch, the Japanese banks are under government pressure to make provison for as much doubtful overseas debt as possible.

When Eurotunnel declared a standstill on interest payment on junior debt in September, the company's price on the debt market fell from an offer price of around 70 per cent to 50 per cent.

Eurotunnel's main agent banks - Midland, National Westminster, Banque Nationale de Paris and Credit Lyonnais - are trying to put a refinancing package together. But bankers do not expect this to be finalised until the spring of next year at the earliest.

"There's a lot of work to be done, in many different areas of the world, and it's not going to be resolved overnight," one banker said.

Shares in Eurotunnel closed the day down 3p at 92p.