Chunnel Shareholders Approve Debt Restructuring

PARIS -- Eurotunnel shareholders approved a debt restructuring that splits ownership of the Channel Tunnel and anticipates a net profit by 2005.

Under the plan, which extends $12.2 billion debt repayment by 20 years, 54% of the tunnel will be owned by shareholders and 46% will be owned by its creditor banks. Previously, shareholders owned 100%.

Eurotunnel's financial difficulties stem from its $16.9 billion construction costs, nearly double the amount originally budgeted.

Eurotunnel is scheduled to be a private operation for the next 65 years, but the French and British governments have been considering an extension of that lease in return for a 25% profit share after the operating license expires.

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