Eurotunnel sinks into EUR 1.89bn loss
PARIS, Feb 9 (AFP) - Eurotunnel, the ailing Channel tunnel operator, on Monday posted a net loss of EUR 1.889 billion (USD 2.405 billion) in 2003 and said it saw no improvement in the depressed cross-Channel market.
The company reported a net profit of EUR 508 million in 2002.Last year’s net loss included an impairment charge of EUR 1.845 billion, on operating profit of EUR 248 million, down 18 percent from an operating profit of EUR 301 million a year earlier.
Excluding the impairment charge, the 2003 net loss was EUR 44 million.
Eurotunnel, which operates the undersea tunnel between France and Britain, had already announced full-year sales of EUR 813 million, down five percent from EUR 857 million in 2002 on a constant exchange rate basis.
Looking forward, the company said Monday it saw “no signs of improvement” in the cross-Channel market and said it did not know when its shuttle business will pick up.
“The market remains depressed and price competition is fierce,” it said in a statement.
The company reduced debt by EUR 219 million last year, bringing the total debt reduction since its 1998 restructuring to EUR 1.7 billion.
Eurotunnel also said it would “significantly” cut tunnel access rates for train operators from next year if it reached agreement with creditors on cutting its debt servicing costs.
It is seeking to reach agreement in principle during 2004 with a view to implementing the access rates cuts in 2005.
Investors punished Eurotunnel, sending shares down 7.27 percent to EUR 0.51 in early trading in Paris, while the CAC 40 index was up 1.28 percent at 3,671.08 points.
Subject: France news