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Eurostar rescued after France bows to British demands

·2-min read

Watch: COVID-19 - Eurostar secures £250m rescue package from shareholders and banks

Emmanuel Macron has bowed to Boris Johnson by stumping up French taxpayer cash to lead a bailout for Eurostar.

The French government and Eurostar’s other shareholders will stump up £200m to rescue the Channel Tunnel rail operator, with Britain not paying a penny or providing any loan guarantees, The Telegraph can reveal.

Shareholders, led by the French state-backed rail operator SNCF, injected £50m of new equity into the business; £150m of shareholder loans; and restructured a £50m loan from lenders including NatWest. 

Jacques Damas, chief executive, said: “The refinancing agreement is the key factor enabling us to increase our services as the situation with the pandemic starts to improve.”

Eurostar was on the brink of collapse earlier this year after passenger numbers slumped 95pc following travel restrictions introduced during the pandemic. 

Eurostar
Eurostar

French ministers and Eurostar bosses appealed for the UK Government to step in and inject tens of millions of pounds into the business amid concerns it was running out of cash. 

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, resisted the demands from Paris, insisting that Eurostar was “not our company to rescue”.

The Telegraph revealed in April that Eurostar had struck a deal with lenders to refinance £400m of loans that were due to be repaid this summer.

City sources said that shareholders would do the “heavy lifting” as part of the deal, but hope remained that the UK could play its part further down the line. 

However, details released on Tuesday revealed that help from British taxpayers would not be required in a victory for Mr Shapps.

In January, French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari insisted that the UK must play its part in saving Eurostar.

David Cameron sold the UK’s stake in 2015 for £750m.

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