Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 12:34 UK

Eurotunnel blames fire for losses

Eurotunnel trains
Eurostar carried more than 9m passengers last year for the first time

Eurotunnel, the operator of the Channel Tunnel, has blamed a fire last year for its loss of 8m euros (£6.9m) in the first half of the year.

This compared with a profit of 22m euros in the same period a year earlier.

Part of the tunnel was closed after the fire in September and full capacity was only restored in February.

The company has received 141m euros from its insurers since the fire. Its profits depend on whether it gets more.

"If we get the totality of the payments, I will make a profit [in 2009], if I only get a portion, I will be break-even, otherwise it could be negative," Jacques Gounon, chairman and chief executive said.

Revenues fell 28% to 266m euros after traffic from trucks fell 53% against the same period last year.

The company also said it was bidding to purchase the French subsidiaries of Veolia Cargo, which had annual sales of 50m euros last year and would be Eurotunnel's first acquisition.

Eurotunnel recorded a profit for the first time in 2007 after successfully restructuring its huge debts.

Eurotunnel was saved from bankruptcy in 2007 after its creditors agreed to cut its debt by taking a stake in a newly-listed company, though many long-time shareholders lost perks such as unlimited free travel.

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