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Channel Tunnel freight deal follows crucial vote

01 Jul 2007

EUROTUNNEL confirmed on June 1 that shareholders holding 87·3% of the 2·55 billion twinned shares in Eurotunnel SA and Eurotunnel plc had voted to accept the Exchange Tender Offer which forms the next step in the company's complex financial restructuring process.

Eurotunnel Chairman & Chief Executive Jacques Gounon said he was amazed by the final response, which was well ahead of the 50% target set by French stock market regulator AMF. The reduction of Eurotunnel's £6·18bn of debt to £2·84bn can now proceed under the supervision of administrators appointed by the Paris commercial court. The new shares in Groupe Eurotunnel SA are scheduled to start trading on June 28.

Gounon said that Eurotunnel was 'committing itself with determination to the path of development', and confirmed its intention to 'relaunch' freight traffic through the Channel Tunnel. On June 13 the company's operating subsidiary Europorte 2 signed a strategic partnership agreement to operate rail services on behalf of the Port Autonome de Dunkerque which should see its first trains running this summer.

As well as pooling technical knowledge in the fields of safety and operations, the accord provides for the movement of containers from Dunkerque to the UK through the Tunnel. Europort 2 will also operate trains between the port and the Delta 3 logistics terminal at Dourges, south of Lille. PAD Managing Director Jean-Claude Terrier said it was important to recognise that 'our hinterland is also in front of us', suggesting that Dunkerque could become 'the deep water port of England".

Europorte 2 has five Class 92 dual-system electric locos being refurbished by Brush, and it is studying how to fit them with KVB protection equipment to operate in France, subject to getting safety approval from EPSF.

It is also looking for suitable freight terminals in the UK, which would be served in partnership with another operator.