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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Eurotunnel unveils new debt deal
Eurotunnel train
Eurotunnel hopes to keep bankruptcy at bay
Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel has unveiled a debt restructuring plan aimed at placating its creditors and staving off collapse.

Under the deal, existing shareholders would have a minimum 13% stake in a new company that would make an offer for Eurotunnel's shares early next year.

The move comes nearly three months after the firm was granted bankruptcy protection in a French court.

Creditors will have to vote on the proposals before the end of November.

Eurotunnel, which has a debt mountain of 6.2bn ($11.7bn), will go into administration if the plan is defeated.

'Painful history'

The restructuring plan involves the creation of a new firm, Groupe Eurotunnel, bolstered by a long-term loan of 2.84bn from a consortium of banks including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.

Groupe Eurotunnel would make an exchange tender offer to current Eurotunnel shareholders and would issue convertible hybrid notes worth nearly 1.3bn.

Eurotunnel boss Jacques Gounon said the plan would allow the company to relaunch from a solid base, adding that it offered the "best possible equilibrium between the demands of the different stakeholders".

"We will have turned the page on 20 years of an often painful history," he said.

Mr Gounon said he believed Eurotunnel was already close to having the necessary majority required to approve the restructuring.

Eurotunnel ran up massive debts during construction of the cross-channel rail tunnel, which opened in 1994.

Its business plan quickly got into difficulties when actual passenger numbers were greatly below its projections.

A look at Eurotunnel's restructuring plan

Eurotunnel gets court protection
02 Aug 06 |  Business
Court delays Eurotunnel decision
25 Jul 06 |  Business
Eurotunnel eyes 'rapid' debt deal
19 Jul 06 |  Business
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13 Jul 06 |  Business
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07 Jul 06 |  Business
Eurotunnel warns over its future
12 Apr 06 |  Business

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