Eurostar Secures French-Led Bailout as U.K. Resists Contributing

Eurostar International Ltd. secured a 250 million-pound ($305 million) refinancing package from banks and shareholders led by the French government, after the coronavirus crisis starved the Channel Tunnel rail operator of cash.

Eurostar, whose passenger services link London with Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, will get 50 million pounds in shareholder equity, 150 million pounds in investor-guaranteed loans, and restructure 50 million pounds of existing loans, it said in a statement Tuesday.

The train operator will gradually increase the number of runs to Paris to two daily starting May 27, as the U.K. and France begin to loosen border restrictions. The frequency will go up to three a day from the end of June, then gradually increase through the rest of summer. In normal times, daily trains would run every half hour in each direction.

Britain, which sold a 40% holding in London-based Eurostar in 2015, resisted any involvement in the bailout, led by French state railway SNCF, which owns 55% of Eurostar. Other owners include Belgian railroad SNCB and private investors Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and Hermes Infrastructure.

Eurostar Chief Executive Officer Jacques Damas earlier appealed for access to Bank of England-backed loans made available to some airlines, saying the company’s survival was in doubt after traffic plunged 95% during the pandemic.

Business lobby London First had also appealed to the U.K. Treasury to intervene.

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