Eurotunnel reports first profit

8th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The company, which nearly sank under its huge debt, said it made net profit of one million euros (1.5 million dollars) in 2007.

   PARIS, April 9, 2008 - Eurotunnel, which runs the rail tunnel under
the Channel between Britain and France, on Tuesday reported its first annual
profit since the giant project opened in 1994.
   The company, which nearly sank under its huge debt, said it made net profit
of one million euros (1.5 million dollars) in 2007.
   The year "2007 shows that the new Groupe Eurotunnel is nothing like the
old," said company chairman Jacques Gounon, hailing the result which was
boosted by the write-off of 3.3 billion euros (5.1 billion dollars) in debt
and increased cross-Channel traffic.
   The company said revenues increased by six percent in 2007 to 775 million
euros (1.2 billion dollars) and Gounon said in a statement that results for
2008 showed the group was making "rapid progress."
   The 50.5 kilometre (31.4 mile) tunnel linking Folkestone, on the English
coast, and Calais on the French side, has been hailed as one of the "Seven
Wonders of the Modern World" by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
   But the cost had overrun estimates by 80 percent when the six year
construction was completed and the tunnel opened to rail traffic in 1994.
   Eurotunnel lurched from debt crisis to another until a restructuring
agreement in 2007 allowed it to cut its 9.2 billion euro (12 billion dollar)
debt to 4.16 billion euros. The company said this created an "exception" gain
of 3.3 billion euros for the group in 2007.
   The tunnel was built with private funds from capital markets, much of it in
the form of bonds, largely owing to the insistence of then British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher.
   The vast bulk of the debt was held by financial institutions, but a large
number of small shareholders, mostly in France, bought shares when the company
was floated in 1987 and they have suffered most from the debt crises.
   Eurotunnel said its turnovere in the first quarter of 2008 was up 15
percent on the same period last year to 187.6 million euros.

AFP 

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