Fresh setback for Eurotunnel restructuring plan
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Efforts by Eurotunnel to secure approval for its restructuring plans suffered a fresh blow on Friday when the Channel tunnel operator’s most influential shareholder launched an attack on the proposals.
Nicolas Miguet, a share tipster and would-be politician who has a large following among Eurotunnel’s small private shareholders, said he would not use proxy votes granted to him to support Eurotunnel’s provisional restructuring agreement as it stood.
Mr Miguet’s move came as Eurotunnel held a meeting with some holders of the lowest-ranked £1.9bn ($3.5bn, €2.7bn) of its £6.18bn debt who have also been opposed to the restructuring plan agreed between Eurotunnel and creditors from the key middle tiers of its debt structure.
There were conflicting indications of what happened at the meeting. People familiar with Eurotunnel’s thinking suggested the most junior creditors – bondholders – had now abandoned their own, rival restructuring plan and were now talking about potential alterations in their favour to Eurotunnel’s plan. The creditors’ committee representing the bondholders denied that was the case and said Eurotunnel’s plan was dead. Talks will continue next week.
Eurotunnel needs the support of 75 per cent of every tier of its debt and 55 per cent of its shareholders for a restructuring plan to be implemented. The company must seal any changes to its plan before Wednesday, when its right to hold restructuring talks without being declared in default of its loan agreements expires.
Mr Miguet expressed his opposition to the restructuring plan on his premium-rate phone line, to which many of Eurotunnel’s 900,000 French small shareholders subscribe. Mr Miguet led the rebellion against Eurotunnel’s former Franco-British management that led to their being voted out at the 2004 annual meeting.
He said on Friday night that, in its current form, Eurotunnel’s restructuring plan – known as the Provisional Restructuring Agreement (PRA) – would win the support of neither the shareholders nor bondholders.
He would wait to see any changes that might emerge from discussions with the bondholders next week before deciding whether to support an amended version of the plan if one emerged.
The bondholders insisted that there was no chance of supporting any plan based on the PRA.
Eurotunnel wants to have a revised plan agreed with sufficient creditors ahead of a shareholder meeting due on July 27.
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