Monday, September 21, 1998 Published at 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Business: The Company File
Eurotunnel 'on track'
Light at the end of the tunnel?
Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel has reported its first half-year net profit of £143m.
The debt-laden company said its 1998 net profit included an exceptional restructuring gain of £270m following implementation of a financial restructuring plan in April.
Operating profit for the year was boosted by an unprecedented increase in traffic in July and August.
Compared to last year's traffic results, July and August 1998 figures were significantly higher, with a 31% increase for cars, 43% for coaches and 67% for lorries.
Record passenger numbers
An all-time monthly traffic record was set by the shuttle freight service in July.
The shuttle passenger service had a record month in August, including a daily record of 13,324 cars on August 1.
Patrick Ponsolle, group executive chairman of Eurotunnel, described the results as "very encouraging" and in line with the company's targets.
He said: "These results and the increase of our traffic in July and August give us confidence that our operating profit for the whole of 1998 should be at least in line with our target and is likely to be higher for the second consecutive year."
He said the company was recovering ahead of schedule and may be profitable well ahead of its target date.
"The group forecast a first profit around 2004 and a first dividend around 2005," he told Europe 1 radio.
"Personally, I have the feeling, if our turnaround continues at the current pace, that the profit could come a little earlier...a few years early," he said.
The results came amid mounting speculation that the company was planning to submit plans to the British and French governments this week to build a new channel rail tunnel.
Mr Ponsolle said plans for a third tunnel would be proposed with a scheme for a road tunnel.
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