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Best investor perk dies

Robert Peston | 15:20 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2007

It’s the death of probably the most generous shareholder perk in the history of shareholder perks. Some 5,400 founder shareholders of Eurotunnel are to lose their right to unlimited lifetime travel through the Channel tunnel and a further 6,300 shareholders will lose their entitlement to free travel twice a year.

They are the victims of the financial reconstruction of the perennially profit-challenged business that is currently in process. Buried away at the back of the registration document for Groupe Eurotunnel SA and Eurotunnel Group UK PLC - which was published on Friday - is a brief statement that there will henceforth be only one set of perks for all Eurotunnel shareholders, namely a 30 per cent discount on three return crossings for those holding a minimum number of shares for a certain period.

It’s hard not to wince on behalf of those who’ve enjoyed the unlimited travel perk. Wily investors who bought a minimum of 1500 shares in 1987 were told they could go back and forth through the tunnel as many times as they liked till 2042.

That perk has been worth a mint to the holders. But the corollary is that Eurotunnel says that it simply can’t afford the giveaway any longer.

However I suspect those 5,400 holders are not the least sophisticated investors in the UK. And some may investigate whether there’s the possibility of a legal challenge to Eurotunnel’s unkind cut - which after all its recent woes, Eurotunnel could definitely do without.

Comments   Post your comment

I want to think "harsh, but fair". But actually it's just really, really harsh.

  • 2.
  • At 08:15 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Dick wrote:

Based on some analysis I've been involved with recently in relation to the demands and supply/cost of liquid fuels over the next ten years I would say that Eurotunnel need to only to hang in there for a relatively short time before starting to see their business really begin to pick up.

  • 3.
  • At 08:48 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • cedric feather wrote:

We think the original subscribers to the Eurotunnel flotation deserve better treatment.It was their money that enabled the project to commence,that bore all the equity risks and to be placed in the same group as purchasers in the secondary market is an insult.
The Company is morally bound,if not legally,to maintain the concessions of this group of 5400 whose usage must be both limited and declining.
The Company must therefore seek permission of whichever authority it claims is regulating this aspect of the restructuring to differentiate between the primary and secondary shareholders.Otherwise it should recognise what its moral responsibilty is and improve on its terms to all concession shareholders.

  • 4.
  • At 11:31 PM on 29 Mar 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Your "best investor perk" label was probably intended for those Eurotunnel shareholders who got unlimited free return travel until the end of the franchise - which at some point in the past was extended to 2086.

I am one of the 6,300 shareholders apparently about to lose their two "free" trips per year - actually, we pay £1 each way. The perk is now worth much less than intended because it is now to be ended nearly eight decades early.

Because of Eurotunnel's disastrous financial performance, I have many times described my "perk" to friends, family and colleagues as "the most expensive free tickets ever". Including money put in during a rescue rights issue, I think each return trip that I have made has actually cost me around £200!

  • 5.
  • At 12:06 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Greg Munton wrote:

This is a real insult to those loyal 1987 shareholders who stuck with Jaques Gounon's dogged defence of the company which may have saved it. Even I admired his tenacity.
However the earlier statements that the priviledges of the shareholders would be preserved at least in equivalent form and value now seems to have been a complete comercial lie designed to deceive.
It will be interesting to see if a legal challenge on the basis of default of contract can be mounted.

  • 6.
  • At 09:26 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Michael Stainer wrote:

This is no necessarily a 'done deal'. There are grounds for retaining the travel rights - details are given on which has contributions from interested shareholders.

  • 7.
  • At 10:08 AM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • John Webley wrote:

The holders of these shares are indeed fighting this proposal and an action group has already been formed.
It should be remembered that this incentive was required to ensure the initial share offering got off the ground and the investors concerned invested over £5000 which was a great deal of money in 1987. There has been no return from this investment and it is now worth very little.
Please also see today's article in the business section of the Daily Telegraph.

  • 8.
  • At 11:18 PM on 30 Mar 2007,
  • Peter Oldham wrote:

If this original agreement by the euro tunnel company has now been renaged on, then I feel their must be a strong case to answer against the tunnel company, in the courts. It's fine for the company to make this agreement in the first place for their benefit, but when the going gets tough, they should not be allowed to tear up the contract, and walk away! Without penalty!

  • 9.
  • At 01:53 AM on 31 Mar 2007,
  • Patrick Green wrote:

Why now alienate Eurotunnel's original shareholders at such a critical time. I would like to obtain an opinion as to the legallity of such a stunt through an action group such as Micheal Stainer's but find that particular site is inoperative.

  • 10.
  • At 05:16 PM on 31 Mar 2007,
  • John Williams wrote:

I think Jacques Gounon may find that many of the founder shareholders are retired City professionals with plenty of money and time on their hands to fight this rank unfairness.

The City does not take kindly to people who promise one thing and do another and I hope the Takeover Panel speaks out about having its name taken in vain and on its position regarding the protection of the rights of small shareholders.

If other founder shareholders use their perk as much as I do, I do not think that losing income on 25,000 return trips a year is going to make a great dent in Eurotunnel's future income.

Jacques Gounon might be better advised looking at the risk and return on this as otherwise, under certain circumstances, he and the other directors might end up being personally liable for a substantial sum in damages.

  • 11.
  • At 01:45 PM on 01 Apr 2007,
  • Ken Irons wrote:

The loss of the travel privilege for founder shareholders who invested a minimum figure is a blow. But any basis for disputing this loss would seem to hinge on the question of the original operating licence, since this was granted to the Eurotunnel parent and the privilege is linked to this licence. It is difficult to see from the documents available so far exactly what is the situtauon with regard to this specific matter. Does anyone know? It is worth fighting for, since it is the only true value of the shares and, frankly, if nothing can be done, it seems difficult to know why one should try and save the Company.

  • 12.
  • At 03:07 PM on 01 Apr 2007,
  • ted clark wrote:

This should be fought through the courts. How can it be legal when Jaques Gounon wrote in his letter to us on 19th January that the Paris Commercial Court approved the Safeguard Plan with the support of the court appointed representatives. He said the decision of the court is applicable to all shareholders. He also enclosed the Safeguard which he said was won through the court. This ensured the future of the company by FOUR KEY measures. The
third key measure clearly states: "the new structure will also offer TRAVEL PRIVILEGES EQUIVALENT TO THE CURRENT ONES" Very interesting to see this letter has been taken off their website.

  • 13.
  • At 01:20 AM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • George Matthews wrote:

One of the great financial scams of the late 20th century was the Eurotunnel flotation. Nearly 20 years ago a Prospectus was issued that greatly exaggerated the revenues and traffic that could be expected.

In order to attract small investors travel privileges were attached to founder shares of 1987. The greatest of these was free passage "for life". As it turned out the shares themselves became worthless - less than one tenth of the flotation price at present, with no prospect of rising - and the only value is in the travel privileges.

Now the reconstructed company is claiming that they cannot honour these promises. Having fleeced many small investors with false promises they now propose take every last piece of value from the shares.

When the Albert Hall was built, a similar scheme was used. Investors were offered a Debenture which gave the right to use a box. Unlike Eurotunnel shares these could be bequeathed to descendants. Unlike Eurotunnel the promises were honoured.

Perhaps the 19th century had a stronger sense of morality?

I hope this attempted theft will be tested in the courts.

  • 14.
  • At 09:27 AM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • Ted Gush wrote:

My wife and I are also in the £1 each way crew. I was alerted to Jacques Gounon's misreading of the situation when he wrote in the Dec '06 'on track' newsletter; "for you, shareholders, what is important is not the number of shares you hold but the overall value of your investment". This is of couse complete rubbish! I, and most like me, value our investment entirely based on the travel privileges which are/were the sole reason for our investment in the original scheme. We have been badly treated throughout by random changes made to the operating policies which have always indicated a cynical disregard for shareholders or any attempt to deliver the privileges as described in the prospectus. Furthermore, it seems to me that this is not only harsh but also ill conceived.

Most travel providers now realise that yield managment techniques are the key to selling tickets and that secondary spend at the terminals (or on the voyage) are key to building profits. We shall now most probably cut our tunnel crossings down to the 6 on offer, or less depending on competitor pricing policies prevailing, and thereby remove our very considerable secondary spend. The actual cost of carrying shareholders vehicles is negligable so the saving is meaningless unless the £1 travellers can be converted to a full tariff travellers. We certainly wont be 'paying' for the same number of trips we have previously made so the net effect of these changes will be reduced revenue from this particular shareholder and I doubt that we'll be alone in this. As regular travellers we know all the deals on offer at any time and will obviously take our business to the keenest player. History dictates that Eurotunnel have never quite grasped this point. Leopards and spots...flying pigs etc come to mind here!

If anyone is looking for support to try and scupper this travesty then you can count me in. Please post details soonest.

  • 15.
  • At 05:43 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • katrien tangney wrote:

We went into debt in 1987 to buy our shares.I am Belgian living in England,and without our travel privileges I will not be a ble to afford to see my ageing family in Bruges.
Our shares are really worthless, but now to steal my weekly ticket as well
will just make me cry !

  • 16.
  • At 05:58 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • peter ford wrote:

Are you financially illiterate? We paid £3.53 per share for the "right" to travel twice a year "free" through the Tunnel at the time of the original share offer. The present share price is around £0.30. We had to buy 1600 shares for this privilege, so it is hardly surprising that we intend to launch a strong legal challenge to maintain our position.

  • 17.
  • At 08:00 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • gary french wrote:

It would be interesting to know the perks that the board of directors (employees) receive when they are trying to limit shareholders ( owners) perks. You only have to look at british airways directors who have unlimited first class travel and these people are only employees of the company.

  • 18.
  • At 09:52 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • k.Ardagh wrote:

I am staggered that at the last minute Eurotunnel is aparantly not going to honour the concession granted to the original shareholders. I am one of them and even subsribed to the subsequent rights issue. The loss I have suffered is significant and only marginally improved by the trips I have since taken. I was assured by the Company some months ago that my rights would be preserved which makes this u turn all the more difficult to accept.

The Company says that it has been advised that it must treat all shareholders equally. I have no idea what the authority for this is but surely if that is the only reason and the Company (as it has previously indicated) wants to preserve the concession there must be a way round the problem. At the very least the Company could announce that its intention following the reorganisation would be to reinstate the concession (or one very similar) to former longstanding loyal shareholders.

That would not form part of the offer and therefore legally binding but I suspect the moral obligation imposed on the Board might be acceptable to many shareholders in my position.

  • 19.
  • At 10:00 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • Roger Edgar wrote:

This seems Cent wise, Euro foolish by GET.

My wife and I have made two '£1 each way trips' to the Pas de Calais via Eurotunnel this year. Looking at my Visa card statements, we have spent in the Pas de Calais over 1800 euros (on wine, food and hotel accomodation) during those 2 trips, and under normal circumstances, would expect to spend pro rata at least 7000 euros over a full year. If our travel privileges (more probably rights) are plundered, we will spend our money elsewhere.

I do not believe that I am the only one of the 4000 Founder Shareholders to feel that if we are to be cheated, then France, and especially the Pas de Calais will not be where we spend our money in the future.

  • 20.
  • At 11:19 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • M Smith wrote:

Let's face it, without the old travel perks, the shares are not worth the paper they're written on.

As for the new perks of 30% discount on a Eurotunnel fare, there are better bargains on the ferries.

  • 21.
  • At 11:23 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • C T Hart wrote:

Eurotunnel may claim that the takeover code does not permit any differentiation between shareholders in the exchange of Eurotunnel Units for the new GET SA shares but is not actually planning to give all shareholders the same treatment anyway as the proposed 6 one-way trips at 30% off until 2010 will only apply to existing shareholders who meet certain conditions, not to all of them. It would be easy for Eurotunnel to uncouple the existing travel privileges from the exchange deal by an executive decision subsequent to the exchange which would not be subject to the Takeover Code. They know which Unit holders are now entitled to the various classes of travel privileges as these people were issued with travel cards valid until November 2008 as recently as last November. Thus there is no problem to preserve that travel card validity and to continue it while the present Unit holders continue to retain ownership of an equivalent number of the new GET SA shares.

The problem is one of the will of the French managers to honour the original undertakings made to many British investors which made construction possible from 1987. Control passed to a French majority quite recently and the majority of those Unit holders who bought recently as a speculation are French and many do not enjoy any travel privileges and played no part in bringing the project to fruition.

it is nonsence to maintain that GET SA cannot any longer afford to preserve these privileges. The number of the original investors is now just over 4000 and the true marginal cost of carrying them is tiny. They are already mostly aged and as they die off this notional burden will steadily diminish.

Thus this looks like stage 2 of a French coup against the British, following that which removed all the British Directors some years ago. The present Directors should consider whether they wish to see the proposed debt deal collapse so that they become bankrupt and forfeit the concession under the Anglo-French Treaty of Canterbury. It is simply not worth that risk to annoy those whose money made the tunnel possible and they should therefore accept that they have acted dishonourably and must find a sensible way out.

The numbers of French held Units indicate that Eurotunnel could probably win the 60% acceptance necessary to validate the proposed Units for GET SA shares exchange deal. But that might still be stopped by a court injunction. However it is simply not worth upsetting the original investors in this way. It is quite possible that they will decide to boycott GET SA altogether in future and not travel by the shuttle trains although perhaps still by Eurostar. As the British motorway system becomes gridlocked using the car shuttles is becoming a less attractive option for those living far from the tunnel and when St Pancras and the new high speed link opens next November these elderly investyors may well decide that they would prefer to abandon car travel at 30% off and go by train instead.

This time "Albion is not being perfidious" but France. If French honour is to be restored Eurotunnel must think again. The British Government should also at least express disquiet at this anti-British action and ask the French Government to help to resolve this dispute. But they seem to want everyone to travel by air.

  • 22.
  • At 11:45 PM on 02 Apr 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

It's a simple choice.

a) they can continue to 'blackmail' the company, essentially using the threat of fatally delaying the very short legal timetable for the restucturing. That risks the banks forcing "substitution" which would almost certainly kill all the privileges. Or

b) they can go with what is on offer.

From his track record, I don't think Jaques Gounon is going to be the one to blink first.

As for these particular shareholders bearing ALL (or even a significant proportion) of the equity risk, I'd bet that most purchased the bare minimum. I make that a shade over £18M. I suspect the flotation itself cost more than that. £18M certainly didn't build the tunnel - nor do much to finance it. ESA/EPLC is paying 20 times that amount each year just in interest.

[PS I own rather more than 1,500 shares myself, and I know which way I'm voting.]

[PPS Let's report it correctly; the restructuring body is 'GET' not 'Get']

  • 23.
  • At 12:28 AM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Stan Thomas wrote:

I don't see what's in it for Eurotunnel. The train's going anyway and most of the time there's free space so it's a perk that cost's nothing - most of the time. The assumption that these shareholder-travellers will travel anyway *and* pay the full fare seems fatally flawed. Eurotunnel will upset a lot of people for no nett gain.

  • 24.
  • At 07:21 AM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Tony Hartley wrote:

This proposal can only be described as outrageous. Having hung in there during the construction problems, escalating costs and then the fire, all of which decimated our share value, we are now to be cast aside. Further, as I read it, the three times a year 30% concession is only guaranteed to 2010. The ticketing/booking systems are set up to deal with the original shareholders who must in any event be diminishing in number, so this is just totally unacceptable. Are Eurotunnel seriously suggesting that this small group of shareholders has to be dealt with in this way so as to ensure the company's survival. What utter rubbish.

  • 25.
  • At 08:54 AM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Essex wrote:

The minimum investment for founder shares was £5250 which at 1987 prices was a considerable investment. But very many people invested more as well as contributing to the rights issues - my own investment was over £10,000.

It should be remembered that this was technically a very risky investment and without the free travel concession, it wasn't thought the capital-raising was going to succeed. The initial documents made clear unless there was government force majeure, the travel privilege would be maintained.

  • 26.
  • At 10:03 AM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Madeleine Fowler wrote:

Eurotunnel claims that by removing shareholders' privileges they will save £200,000. This is based on the oneway fare of £150.00 so is a nonsense since most people either go for the day or a few days when a cheaper deal is often available. We are only able to travel if the train has space anyway. My husband's immediate reaction has been that we shall resort to the ferry to Le Havre, which is a much more convenient location than Calais. The real loser will be the Pas de Calais which has been regenerated and has blossomed largely on the backs of the shareholders frequent visits. Perhaps the Action Group should drum up support from our friends across the channel who are likely to lose large chunks of income. Both my husband and I invested in this promising venture and have never seen a dividend - not only will we see no dividends in the future, but whatever benefits replaced this are to be stripped away - strikes me that Eurotunnel has been taken over by the Gordon Brown school of Economics.

  • 27.
  • At 11:18 AM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • marco wrote:

The so called "free" travel perk should be put in context. In 1987 Eurotunnel need to attract equity to get the project off the ground, construction had not commenced it was not certain the project could be completed and no dividends were likely to be paid for a decade. Investors were not "told" they could have free travel they were guaranteed unlimited travel for the duration of the concession if they invested a minimum of 5,500 pounds for as long as they wanted to maintain this guarantee. For Eurotunnel to remove this now is certainly a breach of faith it may also be illegal. It is also petty minded as there are only some thousands of founder shareholders whose votes the company doesn't need but also whose costs of travel are equally insignificant.
It is typical of the style of management that they should even consider doing this.

  • 28.
  • At 11:49 AM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • David Dutton wrote:

When the trains are running at capacity, it is slightly understandable. However, they are not and therefore, what is the cost of extra passengers. I don't believe there is one. Maybe it is a publicity stunt that hasn't been very well thought out.

  • 29.
  • At 12:53 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Michael Clark wrote:

As a Foundation Shareholder I share the outrage expressed by your other contributers at the unilateral action taken by Eurotunnel to axe our rightful travel concession. I must further add that, on the strength of this guaranteed right reaffirmed by M.Gounon as recently as January this year, I bought a property in France in 1989. It is probably a coincidence that the 4500 odd Foundation Shareholders are largely British and that the Board of Directors of Eurotunnel are exclusively French.

  • 30.
  • At 12:58 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Douglas Coutts wrote:

Paul, in an earlier blog, has stated that he thought that most of the founder shareholders only applied for the minimum amount to get their travel perks.
Institutions did, indeed, subscribe for a large number of the shares but Paul's mathmatics are misthought. If the founder shareholders only funded £18 million, as he deduces, then the issue would not have been subscribed. The underighters, as I recall, did not have to deal with a large number of shares not taken up; thus the founder shareholders did provide the entire capital for the venture.
It is worth recalling that, around the time that Sir Alistair Morton, then chairman of Eurotunnel,was saying that the shareholders would 'inherit the earth', the shares briefly touched a high price (during a days trading,thus not recorded as the official 'high')of £13 per share. The expectations of buyers at that time were not to recive travel perks (they did not get them); but to partake in future dividends, encouraged by the then directors and both the Franch and British Governments.

  • 31.
  • At 01:10 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Stefan Szecsei wrote:

We invested in 1500 shares in 1987, largely on the back of the offer of free passage until 2086, or the life of the nominated shareholder.

To have weathered the storm until now, some would consider heroic. Our share price is currently worth roughly 8% of what it originally cost us, which means this investment has been financial suicide in no uncertain terms. This does not include the interest we could have earned had we placed the money in a zero risk building society account in 1987, so in real terms we have probably lost over 95% of the value of our investment.

The free passage privilege sounds marvellous, but in reality, unless you are commuting between the Continent and the UK on a weekly basis, the financial value of the privilege is not that high, particularly if you are crossing for the day/weekend and other off peak times. It is, however, all we have of any tangible value. We ARE the loyal shareholders who waited 7 years before we could finally take our car across the channel, endured mouting debts, watched the value of our investment ebb away, but we believed in the dream of a tunnel connecting the British Isles and continental Europe and wanted to be part of this. We didn't sell when shares reached £11.50 in 1989 and note too that we have NEVER been paid a dividend.

It is bad enough to know that the IPO documents lied to us about potential revenue and traffic levels, but now they want to strip us of the last vestige of value in our shares. If this is inevitable, I would rather that Eurotunnel is finally put out of its misery and goes bankrupt entirely, losing the management their jobs, than agree to a plan that will see the material value of our investment finally reduced to loo paper. After all, the shares are of virtually no value....

As an aside, a message to Paul above: There may only be 4800 or so founding shareholders today whose total investment was not much more than £18 million, BUT, many people flogged their shares when they reached the peak of £11.50, and hence lost the travel privilege that was in their name. That was their choice, and hence they are no longer part of the founding crew, nor indeed are the people who bought their shares, but our aggregrate investment should in no way influence Eurotunnel management decisions or cast us aside as unimportant in the scheme of things.

Finally, if Eurotunnel thinks that stripping our passage rights will stem Eurotunnel losses, they have another thing coming. Current foundation shareholders will all and sundry simply abandon the tunnel, especially as rival ferry companies will usually offer a crossing for half the price of the tunnel.

  • 32.
  • At 01:47 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • p jaggard wrote:

The original purpose of the stock exchange was to raise capital for new, medium to large enterprises.
In 1987 I invested in Eurotunnel because I believed in this model and in the enterprise.I did not believe in the projected travel growth (they would by now be planning another fixed link!), but have been a bit surprised that, unlike virtually every other fixed link in the world, the ferries are still operating.
So, it has been a poor investment, poorly managed, with little non-financial help from the government.
I can live with that, what I cant live with is Frenchmen going back on their promises, and robbing me of my small perk of 2 returns/yr. I would'nt even grumble if they put the cost up to the £10 that we were originally promised, but unless the company actually goes bust, I can see no reason for withdrawing this promise. Out of spite I shall be voting against.

  • 33.
  • At 06:28 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • John Edwards wrote:

While I must add my support on this contentious issue, there's not much to be added to the full exploration of the facts and reasonable opinions of the vast majority of the large number of contributors above. [It is a pleasure to see such a blog without its share of the usual uninformed 'rants'!]

Having emailed M Gounon the moment I received the newsletter that revealed this breach of trust, questioning the advice they had received - while suggesting that, as an alternative, they issue free travel vouchers to the remaining Founder shareholders BEFORE the GET offer is effective. Such vouchers would clearly be redeemable at the discretion of GET, but there seems to be no good reason why the future management (unchanged?) should not honour them in the spirit of the original subscription - for all the reasons detailed in earlier postings.

I am awaiting an early response - BEFORE the Offer response is required!

  • 34.
  • At 06:36 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • John Burgess wrote:

As the right to concessionary travel ceases on sale of the original shares, or death of the owner, are not the original rights to concessionary travel vested in the individual rather than the share itself? If so, there should be no difficulty with all shares having equal travel privileges with founder owners additionally retaining their original concessionary right as individuals.

  • 35.
  • At 09:00 PM on 03 Apr 2007,
  • Colin Brown wrote:

Having been lied to by the chairman of Eurotunnel, should he not reconsidor on his decision to end our travel perks then I have no interest in surporting him any longer and will not be backing the exchange of shares.

  • 36.
  • At 08:12 AM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • James Hood wrote:

First of all, as one of the affected shareholders, I would like to echo much of what has been written above, and to emphasize my outrage at the apparent actions of Eurotunnel.
I think what Eurotunnel may have missed, that is touched on above, but perhaps not sufficiently emphasized is the following:-
The original investment was made, both on the expectations of returns over the life of the concession, and on the value of the travel concessions.
With the massive project over runs, largely the result of safety enhancements, inflation and soaring interest rates (controlled by the Governments involved), and a large undershoot versus the forecasted revenue, the straight investment has as we all know been an unmitigated disaster.
As a result, I mentally “wrote of” this aspect of the share investment many years ago (indeed I did not take up the rights issues for that very reason).
That given, the only residual value of to me, and I suspect many others, has become the current value of the right to future unlimited travel through the tunnel for the life of the concession (or my own life), for 1 pound, a right that is practically costless for Eurotunnel, or its planned successor to deliver.
Clearly the threatened removal of these rights, particularly in such an underhand, dishonest, and almost certainly illegal way, now renders this investment completely valueless. As a result, I no longer see any value in Eurotunnel remaining as a going concern, and therefore no value to me of the proposed safeguard plan, and because of the way I feel we have been treated, I will be seeking out and supporting, even at the expense of throwing good money after bad, any legal way to delay and frustrate the planned recapitalization, and change of control. This new situation means I, and I dare say many others like me will be voting against the restructuring, but much more crucially for Eurotunnel, will be seeking, and supporting, all legal means to derail the restructuring plan, as currently proposed, even to the point of actively considering / suggesting whether it would not be better to push the company into liquidation.
When there is no actual rational economic value worth fighting for, then the emotional, and maybe irrational wish to get even, for the way we, the most loyal of shareholders, and those that bore the greatest risk, have been treated, takes over, and economic rationalism takes a back seat.
Eurotunnel, and others supporting the safeguard plan must consider whether this is in their rational, best interests.

  • 37.
  • At 10:51 AM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Noel Bramley wrote:

As a 1987 (Foundation) Shareholder, losing my travel privileges would mean a non vote to the GET offer. I should rather see the tunnel sealed off than allow the French Board strip us of the only asset we retain after nearly 10 years of 'hope'.

  • 38.
  • At 12:09 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Alistair Pirie wrote:

Letter sent to Monsieur Gounon on 4 April 2007

Dear Monsieur Gounon,

Travel Privileges of 1987 shareholders

As a founder shareholder who also played a small part in assisting Alastair Morton with the 1987 share offer, my first point is to congratulate you on the progress you have been making in resolving Eurotunnel’s debt problem. The action of French shareholders in voting the previous directors out was worrying, because it had been encouraged by polemicists who were suggesting that the governments would finance a rescue. That was never a realistic idea. But the action you have been taking since then to face up to this long-standing problem and find a solution to it has been admirable. The regular information about progress that you have provided has also generally been impressive and useful to shareholders.

But that brings me to my second point, which unfortunately is a serious criticism. In the attachment to your letter dated November 2006, you told us that the new structure (GET SA) “will offer travel privileges equivalent to those in existence for shareholders who participate”. The information with your letter dated March 2007 about the ETO fails to respect that promise. It offers those who have been loyal and patient shareholders for nearly 20 years (and have already lost over 90 per cent of the offer price of the shares) the same much reduced privileges as those who bought shares at 20 pence or less in 2006. In the light of your promise in November, this new version of the ETO proposal is neither honest nor fair.

Apparently the reason initially given for it was that the UK’s Takeover Panel would not accept differentiation between shareholders. I found that difficult to believe, and I understand that they have since made it clear that their requirements are not the reason for what is proposed. While the Panel correctly requires equal treatment of shareholders at any given time if they have equal legal rights, there is no logical reason to prevent proportionate differentiation between shareholders who hold different rights, especially if the different rights proposed simply carry forward the existing differentiation.

I therefore urge you to reconsider this specific aspect of the ETO proposals and to respect the promise you made in November. That is of fundamental importance to me and my wife, who is also a founder shareholder. It may not be worth the trouble for us to support the ETO without this change.

Yours sincerely,

Alistair Pirie

  • 39.
  • At 01:44 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • David Taylor wrote:

I am also a Foundation Shareholder with 1500 shares and the travel concession was a material factor in subscribing for the 1987 Offer for Sale. If the share exchange is accepted a shareholder is voluntarily giving up the travel rights. There would be no going back if there are second thoughts from GET.
The value of the new GET shares is equivalent of 4 or 5 crossings. If the Safeguard Plan fails for lack of shareholder support, Eurotunnel will not immediately go into liquidation. The question is whether it would stagger on long enough to get those 4 or 5 extra trips in.
The Tunnel will not disappear. If it were to be sold on out of effective receivership, it would have shed all its debts. The fares might well be cheaper on the new capital structure, perhaps more than the 30% discount for a limited number of trips now offered.
In a liquidation, the full loss would be crystallised for CGT purposes. The saved tax would pay for a fair few cross Channel trips.

  • 40.
  • At 02:05 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Joe Smouha wrote:

It is indeed good to see such a constructive series of comments on a blog As twice a year for £1 shareholder, I agree with the comments made both as to the basis on which we invested and the reasons why we stuck with it. The travel privileges are in effect a dividend to which the company has committed to pay but over a period of years.

I do hope that Mr Peston will feel able to forward a copy of the blog messages direct to M. Gounon. I have been impressed generally with the way M. Gounon has handled a difficult situation but this seems a very short sighted way of antagonising those whose support he needs.

  • 41.
  • At 03:18 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • David wrote:

Until now I had been impressed with what M.Gounon has achieved for Eurotunnel, but his proposal to inflict extra pain on the foundation shareholders (who already have suffered the same pain as other shareholders) by withdrawing their travel privileges is morally and quite possibly legally wrong. His primary aim now is to ensure that enough shares will be offered for conversion and his indulgence in a petty diversion, when he should be concentrating entirely on achieving the challenging 60% target for conversion, reflects an extraordinary lapse of judgement.

But he has made the failure of the conversion more likely because the foundation shareholders may now justifiably try to halt it. The fault for failure due to that would lie entirely with him and his advisers

Administrators of a bankrupt Eurotunnel would have to be put the tunnel on the market as a going concern to obtain, I have read, in the region of £1bn for the creditors. In the future, with the eventual demise of the budget airlines, such a sale at the low point in the tunnel's fortunes would surely come to be regarded as the bargain of the century.

  • 42.
  • At 06:55 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Is there a legally-qualified viewer of this "thread" who can tell us whether Eurotunnel are correct in saying that since the proposed new company is a completely new legal entity, there is no legal obligation for them to honour commitments made by the previous one (Just a moral one). If this is the case, surely all attempts at legal action are fruitless, and could hinder, or even sink the plan, and there would be no perks of any sort for anyone. And no travel either, presumably, if Eurotunnel folds up.

  • 43.
  • At 07:01 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Madeleine Fowler wrote:

Further to mine of 3rd it is encouraging to see that we foundation shareholders are pretty well speaking with one voice. We must support the legal challenge if only because we have been deceived by the French board, and chiefly by M. Gounon who whilst lulling us into a feeling of security with his soothing mailshots, has been waiting for the very last minute to deliver the "coup de grace" without regrets or valid explanations - vive l'entente cordiale. According to my contacts in Calais, the Calais chamber of commerce is - wait for it - the Port Authority, who can't wait to see the ferrys full once more! The Tourist Office for the region may see things differently - my next port of call.

  • 44.
  • At 07:20 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Jim K wrote:

Reading from across the pond. If friends weren't affected by all this (and thus, potentially affecting me when visiting), I'd be laughing--see it as a reminder to us over here, of sorts, of the dangers of the European penchant for placing so much faith and power in the hands of backstabbing, unelected bureaucrats. God save us from an EU-style, multi-state bureaucracy ever taking root here. And, yes, yes, I understand that the EU doesn't run the thing, but it ever so much does remind me of EU bureaucrats trying to run things, is all.

  • 45.
  • At 08:40 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • David Lentaigne wrote:

Having experienced similar problems before as a small shareholder, the only answer is collective strength, so visit the website of the Action Group and join up...the website is

  • 46.
  • At 08:46 PM on 04 Apr 2007,
  • Peter Lamb wrote:

My two children and I are all foundation shareholders each entitled to 2 return journies per year for a nominal sum.
I am amazed that the present Board, having worked so hard to defend as much shareholder value as possible from the creditors and bondholders, is at the eleventh hour planning to stab the most loyal of the shareholders in the back. I can only join all those above in urging M Gounon and his colleagues to reconsider.

  • 47.
  • At 11:39 AM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • David Fenton wrote:

I do fully appreciate that shareholders will at least have a company that can now begin to operate without the massive burden of debt. However as a shareholder from the very beginning and one who considered the travel benefits as the overwhelming attraction of investing I now feel considerably penalised and find that many who now buy shares in the new company will have the same benefits as me. Quite honestly if Eurotunnel had gone into liquidation and the new operators had been say Virgin then I reckon the travel deals would have been better than the insult we are now being offered. I cannot fathom why there cannot be different levels of shareholder benefits. Those of us who have stuck with the company through thick and thin - on two occasions pouring good money after bad, are now being told we are no better than the johnny-come-latelys, most of whom were buying shares for all the wrong reasons.

  • 48.
  • At 11:56 AM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • Mark Odescalchi wrote:

I would urge all founder shareholders to:
a) write to Jacques Gounon ( if possible in French ) Alistair Pirie's letter in this blog is a good example of a well balanced approach which deserves consideration by the Board of Eurotunnel
b) go to the Eurotunnel Foundation Shareholders Action Group at and consider providing financial support to the proposed fund. If each founder shareholder chips in £150 there will be approx £720,000 available to cover the costs of legal advice posting injunctions etc. which should be meaningful in convincing the Eurotunnel Board that behaving in a disingenuous and unfair manner towards us will not best serve their interests or the interests of other shareholders.
(clearly the Board of Eurotunnel has been given poor advice on the financial costs of the so called "perks" which has been adequately if not comprehensively covered in the blog ).
I am a founder shareholder, I am not a member of the Action Group but intend to support it.

  • 49.
  • At 11:58 AM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • Mike Page wrote:

I have yet to see any legal opinion that there is any chance of GET SA being legally obliged to honour any of Eurotunnel's contracts. Therefore, to my mind, it would be very misguided to do anything to interrupt, or kill off the proposed deal. Founder shareholders will be better-off with 30% off three trips than with no perks or shares at all.

  • 50.
  • At 06:37 PM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • John Webley wrote:

I am on the Steering Committee of ETAG but I hope you will let me add another post since I have to respond to Mike Page. The proposed 30% trips can be killed off by the directors at any time after 2010. I don't think you need a crystal ball.

  • 51.
  • At 08:13 PM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • John Cobbold wrote:

I am a founder shareholder. Like many I bought the shares for the travel perks and did not expect either a dividend or return on the shares. To have these perks taken away after so many promises makes me reconsider my position. Yes I have always been aware that my perks were for the life of the company. Yes I accept that if I vote against restructuring the company it will fail. BUT what are my perks worth under the new proposal. the value of my shares is now so low that I would propose that unless my perks are transferred to the new company I will vote AGAINST the restructuring and allow the company to go BANKRUPT. What Have I lost. A bit more money, but as others summise any new company will probably be offering better deals.
There is a price to loyalty and mine is the continuation of the travel priviledges.

  • 52.
  • At 09:29 PM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • Catherine Dallyn wrote:

I can't imagine it would make a tremendous difference to Eurotunnel's future profitability to honour the promises made to their original investors, the priviliges were the sweetener to persuade people to invest in the hole in the ground.
I also feel strongly inclined just to let the shares go rather than support the new scheme.

  • 53.
  • At 11:18 PM on 05 Apr 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

I too hope that all these comments will be passed on to Monsieur Gounon.

I hope he will recognise that founder shareholders have made a huge contribution and that to deny us our privileges would be grossly inequitable.

I am waiting to see what transpires over the next few days but will vote against the reorganisation if an acceptable solution is not put forward

  • 54.
  • At 01:03 PM on 06 Apr 2007,
  • Ted Gush wrote:

Following my previous posting at No.14 above. I confirm that we have now joined ETAG and paid into the Fighting Fund. Please can we encourage all others who share these concerns to do so too.

  • 55.
  • At 02:02 PM on 06 Apr 2007,
  • David Fenton wrote:

Is Mike Page missing the point.30% off the full fare is not a benefit. And nowhere are we told that we can have 30% off special offers. As I have previously said we would all probaly be better off if Eurotunnel went into liquidation and Virgin or Stagecoach took over the running of the shuttle. Their special offers would almost certainly be better as they understand how to fill empty spaces. Also there will be far better deals with the ferry companies who must be rubbing their hands in glee.

  • 56.
  • At 06:28 PM on 06 Apr 2007,
  • John Richardson wrote:

I'm a "2 trips a year" founder shareholder whose original investment of £3,500 is now worth about £270. No problem with that, all investors take that risk, but for the company to effectively stay in business while refusing to honour the promises made in its formation prospectus seems "not quite right" to me. Yes they say a different company will run it but they will keep the same bunch of pretentious, condescending Board Members they have at present, so why shouldn't they keep the travel perks?

Mr. Gounon tells us the only alternative is liquidation - is this such an unattractive proposition? Who knows, perhaps a British company would buy the shell and run it?

The tunnel will continue functioning whatever happens. There are now, however, plenty of other cheaper, ways for me and others to get to their holiday destinations. The tunnel users are overwhelmingly British yet somehow this whole affair has been hijacked by the French. This may be a chance to change that...

  • 57.
  • At 08:22 PM on 06 Apr 2007,
  • Richard Bale wrote:

I agree with the concensus of views expressed in the preceeding comments. I am concerned that founding shareholders' rights may have little legal protection, but it is worth fighting for a reconsideration. I would observe that it will now be cheaper to take a ferry in most cases even with the 30% discount so the privileges are almost worthless Therefore I believe that it is in our interest to attempt to derail the move to the reorganisation even to the point of insolvency.

  • 58.
  • At 11:55 PM on 06 Apr 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

I too have (albeit with a heavy heart) come to the conclusion that I would prefer to vote against the reorganisation and risk liquidation rather than accept the Board's last minute announcement withdrawing our travel priviliges.

I consider this "volte face" totally unacceptable given the assurances we have previously been given.

The threat of liquidation seems to me to be a hollow one as surely if it came to this we would then have crystalised our losses for capital gains tax purposes? For me that would be worth much more financially than 30% off 3 return tickets until 2010.

Am I right that if we vote in favour of the reorganisation we accept that we forfeit our priviliges and therefore would be unable to claim compensation later? If so that is another reason to vote against.

I hope these posts are all sent to Monsieur Guinon so he can be certain the strengh of feeling this has generated and think again.

  • 59.
  • At 12:52 AM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Zorenah Clark wrote:

I totally agree with most of the previous comments. We must fight for our privileges. In 1987, for 1500 units, the sum of £5,500 was worth a lot of money.

We took the risk when it wasn't even a hole in the ground and loyally hung in there in there regardless of all the commercial problems that ensued. If it wasn't for the likes of the loyal shareholders the project might have gone down the pan as in the past attempts. The shareholders participation meant the banks were more willing to get involved.
Remember too, that it was some seven years after our initial investment before we were able to make our first trip through the tunnel. It wasn't only an investment, it was a project in which we believed. Of course, many of those foundation shareholders took their profits when it touched £13. We are now only about 4000 in number, and as our privileges cannot be sold, or left to our next of kin, it will die with us. I see no reason why such a small number cannot continue to be accommodated especially as there will be no growth in the number of foundation shareholders. To put us in the same hat as those buying the penny shares is positively insulting. Enough is enough. I agree we must derail the re-organisation even if liquidation is the final outcome. The shares are worthless without the priveleges.

  • 60.
  • At 09:02 AM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Mike Page wrote:

I am amazed at some peoples' suggestion that they will take a leap in the dark and just hope that somebody like Richard Branson, or anydody else, would take over the offer of travel privileges to the original shareholders! What would be the incentive for the new operator of a bankrupt company to do this? Our original share certificates would be null, void and worthless! Also that anybody who has enjoyed the bliss of travel on the Shuttle should seriously consider returning to the horrors of returning to the boats.

  • 61.
  • At 11:54 AM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • P Lowe wrote:

I've been on holiday and missed the press announcements. Also a foundation shareholder promised 'equivalent' travel perks in the financial restructuring. How do I join the EFSAG group? The website seems to have disappeared. Is there a current e-mail to contact?

  • 62.
  • At 01:23 PM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • katrien tangney wrote:

good day to all
I have sent my cheque to the fighting fund.
I do hope all others will also pay up.We cannot afford to lose !!!

  • 63.
  • At 04:21 PM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Norman Eastwood wrote:

I too have joined the action group. I sent an e-mail to Mr Schuller at Eurotunnel's Shareholder Information Centre. The reply I received was most unsatisfactory, but I quote one paragraph.
"Whilst it had always been Eurotunnel's intention to continue with the existing travel privileges, regrettably GET SA cannot take into account historical privileges. Within the new GET SA entity only one set of travel privileges can be offered to ensure equality of treatment for all shareholders."
If that really was the intention, why has Eurotunnel not done anything positive to carry it out? In particular if there is any good reason why they cannot create different classes of shareholders, as other companies have done, why have Eurotunnel not responded to the suggestion that they could set up a founder shareholders club, with an annual subscription, and provide the perk via club membership?

  • 64.
  • At 05:13 PM on 07 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

One of my first experiences in France, some 40 years ago, was of being ejected by the ticket inspector from one railway carriage into another, because it was Wednesday. I think that Eurotunnel is now run by French ticket inspectors.

Whilst I agree with the majority of views expressed by the founder shareholders about the perfidy of this decision, let us have a little lightening of this blog. Here in Angleterre, the sun is shining gloriously this Easter weekend. With a bit of luck, global warming will reduce our desire to travel any further south than Torquay for our hols. Already a good part of the French totty is now working in England. One engaged me in conversation just the other day in London, in order to offer stress relief.

Maybe The Board is playing this long. If the company goes bust, watch out for who collects the pieces.

  • 65.
  • At 08:51 AM on 08 Apr 2007,
  • Bjorn Ramell wrote:

I am a founder shareholder and frequent user of the tunnel. I find it extraordinary that the removal of our travel rights will take place without a general assembly, in which we might have been be able to rally the mass of French shareholders to our cause. Hopefully the planned injunction will have an effect, but what other means do we have to raise the pressue? Should we involve the Office of Fair Trading, Trading Standards Officers and/or BBC Watchdog?

  • 66.
  • At 07:04 PM on 08 Apr 2007,
  • David Fenton wrote:

Once again Mike page is missing the point. Nobody has said that new operators would honour the travel privileges of founder shareholders. But what is 30% off a full fare? Just work that out! Were Virgin or any other operator take over the running of the tunnel then I really do believe there would be better deals offered to everyone - shareholders and non-shareholders.

If we fail to obtain any changes to the current offer then I have no interest in Group Eurotunnel. Once again it shows that there are no rewards for remaining faithful to the original scheme.A sign of the times!

  • 67.
  • At 07:46 PM on 08 Apr 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

I am concerned that there has been very little publicity in the press about this and many founder shareholders may be unaware of the problem. The detail is tucked away in the small print.

Would Mr Peston consider passing on these comments to the press so that hopefully all newspapers will cover the issue as widely as possible?

We need to put as much pressure as possible on the Board so that they are under no allusion that we feel betrayed and unless they restore our priveleges we will vote against restructuring even if that means liquidation

  • 68.
  • At 11:01 PM on 08 Apr 2007,
  • Stefan Szecsei wrote:

To Mike Page above, suggesting that we're hoping that a new operator will honour old travel privileges is missing the point. Of course they wouldn't.

What we are saying is that if the option is between GET SA taking over our shares and giving us 30% off three returns per year, or the whole shebang going to the wall, many of us would prefer the latter. A new operator is likely to offer much more competitive fares than Eurotunnel currently does, having bought the asset base for buttons from the receiver and wanting to maximise capacity. Eurotunnel cannot drop its fares too low as it has collosal interest repayments to meet.

And in reply to another comment about the ferries, I have used them frequently as it is actually my father who is the named shareholder, so I cannot travel personally for £1. The current generation of ferries are comfortable, clean and cheap. In fact, the high speed Dover-Bolougne catamaran only takes 50 minutes, which means your journey is faster than Le Shuttle overall if you're heading southbound and fares are from only £15 one way, compared to Le Shuttle's £49...

  • 69.
  • At 04:49 PM on 09 Apr 2007,
  • Angela D wrote:

I hung on to my shares when the price was at its peak as I believed in the tunnel, and also looked forward to making use of the travel privileges in retirement.

Living over 300 miles from the terminal, we have made only one round trip so far, and will probably average less than one trip a year in the future.

However I am incensed that my promised right to unlimited travel is to be withdrawn. My husband also has shares and has never used his privileges. In our case, the potential cost to Eurotunnel of letting us retain our perks must be miniuscule in comparison with the cost of the bad publicity, ill will and resentment that is being engendered among loyal shareholders (all potential ambassadors and advertisers for Eurotunnel).

  • 70.
  • At 05:42 PM on 09 Apr 2007,
  • katrien tangney wrote:

I believe the matter is quite simple.
We own shares,to which are attached,
unlimited free travel(£1) for the period of the concession.The concession is not changing,the structure of the company is.
If the directors of the company,wish to change the structure of the company by taking away our concession,they should also consider,surrendering the concession.
Certainly they are breaking one of the terms of the concession.Unless the concessions are reinstated I will vote against the plan.
Please note if you are trying now to book for travel in December,the privilige has already been withdrawn !

  • 71.
  • At 01:23 PM on 10 Apr 2007,
  • Daniel Lyness wrote:

The restructuring as proposed treats current shareholders on the registrer differently. Those who are founder members (or "originals" per Jacques Gounon) will lose their travel privilleges, or at least 70% of them. Those who purchased 1000 units in subsequent years (often at a vastly lower cost) will retain their travel privilleges in full (or at least until end of 2010).
There is clearly unjust.
A fairer way would be to reduce the 30% benefit (perhaps to 25%) and increase the cost of the "free" tickets available to founder members from £1 (say to £10).

  • 72.
  • At 01:52 PM on 10 Apr 2007,
  • Adrian Atkinson wrote:

Having used Eurrotunnel many times. The Company will never make big profits because the way it set out now, it can't handle volume, and volume is were the profits are.

  • 73.
  • At 02:39 PM on 10 Apr 2007,
  • Frank Bridge wrote:

You win some - you lose some! That's the nature of the game I'm afraid.

  • 74.
  • At 10:33 PM on 10 Apr 2007,
  • Nathan Fraser wrote:

The only reason that we have keeped the share is for the travel concession. Without out the concession why should we vote for the change.

  • 75.
  • At 08:21 AM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • David Taylor wrote:

The first explanation of why the travel rights attaching to Foundation shares could not survive the Share Exchange was that the Takeover Panel would not allow it. This proved to be false. Now Eurotunnel is saying that it is the French market regulator that will not permit it. See reply to the question of what had changed between end January and mid March:-
Dear Mr Taylor
I have responsibility in covering institutional investors and analysts.
In response to your question the French market authority, Autorité des marchés financiers ("AMF"), has confirmed that their must be equal treatment of GET SA shareholders in the Tender Offer.
Michael Schuller
Does anyone have access to an expert in this field to check this out?

  • 76.
  • At 11:21 AM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Gino Francesco wrote:

When people fail to honour their promise;they become dishonourable as a consequence. As an impartial observer, I fail to see how some 6000 shareholders can be a source of worry to the Eurotunnel company, in particular, the obvious infrequency of the use of their perk, makes this concession almost an irrelevence.

  • 77.
  • At 02:23 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • michael wrote:

To all the shareholders. You purchased shares in a risky venture. In all normal circumstances the company would have been wound up long ago to pay off the huge debts that have been defaulted on and any shre holder benefits would have become worthless along with the shares. For political reasons this has not been allowed to happen and instead the other lenders have taken huge capital losses. You should be grateful for the extra years of free travel you have received to date rather than whinging that you are losing a benefit that has lasted so long as an anomaly.

  • 78.
  • At 02:56 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • bob pettitt wrote:

I too bought shares back in 1987 to allow me to travel if and when the tunnel opened for £1 each way.I bought these with buying a property in France in mind (for holidays when I retire). In the past year I've bought that property and retired on 17th March 2007 wouldn't you know! Eurotunnel are trying to scupper my plans but I'm not giving up without a fight. I intend to vote against and will never use the tunnel again if they do get their way.

  • 79.
  • At 03:22 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Folkestone wrote:

I would like to remind Jacques Gounon that without the Founder Shareholders there would be NO Eurotunnel and NO employment for him & hundreds EU citizens who are all earning salaries, also just think how the Pas-De-Clais area has blossomed since 1987. Is this the way to repay founder shareholders? For without them it would never have been built?, or the dreams of NAPOLEON BONAPARTE come true !!!.
The loss of our concession is surely not worth the effort as the greater financial loss to the Nord de France region and their small business may well have a greater impact than Eurotunnel has imagined, or possibly cares about. This, loss of revenue to the region would not be made up by the ‘loyalty’ of Founder Shareholders buying full or reduced priced tickets. The carriage of one vehicle and a couple of passengers in an otherwise under utilised shuttle cannot cost that much to provide in terms of fixed infrastructure costs.
Founder Shareholders also saved the tunnel in 1990. as we have seen in the past and ‘looking to the future’ foundation shareholders might be needed again to keep Eurotunnel afloat. So Jacques Gounon as they say, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face

  • 80.
  • At 04:32 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Michael Hill wrote:

I should read the papers more often as I only discovered this dirty trick while reading the offer, which arrived today. I hope that others who had relied on the earlier statement from the Chairman read the offer before accepting it!

  • 81.
  • At 05:35 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

I totally disagree with the last posting 75. Those founder shareholders who remain shareholders have been long suffering and loyal. We could have sold out at a substantial profit years ago but chose not to, largely no doubt because we wanted to preserve our privileges. We were told when we invested they would last for the lifetime of the Concession. Eurotunnel have since repeatedly assured us we would retain them and has only changed its mind at the very last minute. It has even changed its mind as to the reason for doing so.

At the very least we have been badly let down and misled by the Board, and to say that we are "whingers" is harsh and grossly unfair.

I for one will have no hesitation in voting against the proposals if our privileges are not reinstated or an acceptable solution found. One posting (71) suggests increasing the the £1 charge we pay at present to, say, £10 which I would go along with although it compromises the principle.

I have received a huge package from Eurotunnel this morning and have yet to find the reference to us losing our privileges. It must be there somewhere lost in the small print. Bedtime reading tonight!

  • 82.
  • At 07:01 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • William wrote:

michael posted at 75 above appears to be a jealous man. Does he have no honour? A deal is a deal. Promised should be kept. It is a sad man who criticises the original shareholders for their wish to do the right thing. All should fight to preserve their rights. I am not a beneficiary myself but I wish them well in their predicament.
Do not expect any help from the British Government however as they have already made it clear in the case of stealing Railtrack from the shareholders that they also conspire to break promises. Byers admitted lying to the court and conspiring with others in government in order to take Railtrack from the shareholders. Unfortunately this made no difference to the court and probably won't in this case. It seems to be the norm these days that promises are not kept and dishonourable people decide the future for the rest of us.

  • 83.
  • At 08:21 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • RA Cordy-Simpson wrote:

I was an original shareholder because I believed in the project. I think that it is brilliant. I wanted no dividend but I considered that the two trips a year that I normally do for £1 was a very good and fair dividend. I would support the new offer but feel totally betrayed by EUROTUNNEL now they propose to remove the travel concession. Why not restrict all original shareholders to two return trips a year? At least we would feel that EUROTUNNEL slightly value our loyalty to them over so many years. What they are doing is morally dishonest.

  • 84.
  • At 08:30 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • RA Cordy-Simpson wrote:

As an original shareholder I have accepted getting no dividend in return for unlimited travel concessions. In fact I and I suspect many others only use it two or three times a year. Why does EUROTUNNEL not allocate a maximum of two return trips per shareholder per year? In that way they keep control and we do not feel totally betrayed. What they are proposing is morally wrong.

  • 85.
  • At 07:00 AM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • gjacksch wrote:

Some have suggested that we founder shareholders should endeavour to make Eurotunnel bankrupt, in view of the prospective removal of what is - in view of the decline in share price'the most expensive travel perk ever'.

This has attractions. Anyone buying the residue after bakruptcy has no other option to make money out of the hole in the ground that is the Tunnel but to use it as at present. Wiped clear of debt a new owner could afford much cheaper fares, which would benefit everyone save the lenders. If this is a possibility, it would pay the lenders to exert pressure on our behalf, to avoid losing their money as well....

  • 86.
  • At 08:12 AM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Folkestone wrote:

I would like to remind Jacques Gounon that without the Founder Shareholders there would be NO Eurotunnel and NO employment for him & hundreds EU citizens who are all earning salaries, also just think how the Pas-De-Clais area has blossomed since 1987. Is this the way to repay founder shareholders? For without them it would never have been built?, or the dreams of NAPOLEON BONAPARTE come true !!!.

The loss of our concession is surely not worth the effort as the greater financial loss to the Nord de France region and their small business may well have a greater impact than Eurotunnel has imagined, or possibly cares about. This, loss of revenue to the region would not be made up by the ‘loyalty’ of Founder Shareholders buying full or reduced priced tickets. The carriage of one vehicle and a couple of passengers in an otherwise under utilised shuttle cannot cost that much to provide in terms of fixed infrastructure costs.

Founder Shareholders also saved the tunnel in 1990. as we have seen in the past and ‘looking to the future’ foundation shareholders might be needed again to keep Eurotunnel afloat. So Jacques Gounon as they say, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.

  • 87.
  • At 12:05 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Christopher Calcutt wrote:

If I do lose my £2 travel privileges I will certainly revert to using the ferries. My £2 may not make Eurotunnel rich in itself but the huge amount that my average carload of 5 people spends at each terminal must add up to a fortune each year. Ryanair makes more money from these extras than from flying so why not Eurotunnel?
If the founding shareholders had invested £5314.00 in almost any other company in 1988 they could now afford to travel first class regularly on Eurostar!
The trains are very rarely full so I imagine that full-fare paying passengers are seldom denied a place on their preferred crossing time as a result of places taken by £2 concessionnaires. Personally, I would be quite happy, as a compromise, if £2 trips were excluded from certain peak crossing times. Many has been a daytime trip with less than 20 cars on the whole train.

  • 88.
  • At 12:15 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Christopher Calcutt wrote:

Replying to Frank Bridge - he is right of course, but...
The "nature of the game" is that winning or losing is inevitable and perfectly reasonable unless your opponent is cheating. In this case M.Gounon is cheating. He made a big public promise quite recently and is now trying to sneak the opposite into the small print.

  • 89.
  • At 12:56 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • JP wrote:

Why is it that every time somebody looses money it turns into a whinging fest!!
The comments above show that the investments were made out of greed and not fear. All equity investments are risky, investors seem to forget that equity investors sit at the very bottom of the capital structure.
It is quite clear that many of the initial buyers purchased this as a cheap means of getting tickets and not as a sensible investment (It is remarkable that they have held on to the priviledge for so long).

It is amusing to note the lack of value attached to the privilege in the notes above, those people will find out the value when they have to start paying for the trips!

Bon voyage.

  • 90.
  • At 04:25 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Roger Barbour wrote:

I can only agree with the vast majority on this weblog. I am also a founder shareholder with 1500 shares. I agree with those who say that although we knew we were taking a risk with the value of the shares (as with any shares) we thought that the travel privileges were linked to the concession and its duration.

Someone has suggested that as the travel privileges were given by the existing Eurotunnel PLC and this company will continue to exist to enable GET to continue operating under the concession, then if you keep your existing shares you still have a claim on Eurotunnel PLC. I am not a lawyer, does this stand up?

  • 91.
  • At 04:34 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • James Angry wrote:

As far as I understand, the majority of the shareholders are French. I have been wondering, with their history of blockading Channel ports (fishing, lamb etc), if the case goes against us, do you think that the French shareholders might organise a blockade of the tunnel?
I would support it if that happened.
I can't decide whether to vote For or Against the offer. Having been invested in Eurotunnel for 20 years with NIL return, I might just vote NO

Angry in Suffolk

  • 92.
  • At 11:18 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Virginia Lucy wrote:

Being an original shareholder and advocate of the Eurotunnel venture, I invested £5,250 of my savings, opting for travel rights rather than dividends, because I believed in long term participation rather than trying to make a ‘quick buck’. Those who use the word perk are misguided. A ‘PERK’ – short for perquisite – is something given as an additional benefit and not something that is paid for as part of a contract.
Then, when the project was almost about to flounder, (along with many others) I paid another £2,385+ for a further 900 shares (which I could ill afford at the time) in the 'rights issue', to keep the project going.

Without this input the Eurotunnel might not have been completed. I am absolutely appalled that Eurotunnel are now trying to renege on this deal, which I thought was legal and binding – otherwise, what’s the point of entering into an agreement. If I'd not decided on the travel concession, I could have sold my shares when they were worth £12 for £18,000 and been quids in. So, if they say that everybody should be treated equally, why not allocate shares to the amount of money put in. I would then have around 15,000 shares – instead of 2,400 – or refund us the difference, based on what would have been earned by putting £7,635 in a savings bond for all those years.

With this in mind, I would be glad to join an action group to stop this travesty of justice.

  • 93.
  • At 02:47 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • p jaggard wrote:

Could somebody tell me what happens to someone who does not accept the offer, if the 60% threshold is reached?
It seems to me that they will get less than those who accept the offer. If this is so, it is contrary to fair play. Never before have I come across a takeover where those that vote against are not treated in the same way as those that vote for.

  • 94.
  • At 09:39 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Norman Eastwood wrote:

Michael has missed an important point. To quote from the Telegraph article "As recently as January 19, Eurotunnel boss Jacques Gounon wrote to shareholders reassuring them that: "The new structure will also offer travel privileges equivalent to the current ones."
He has now gone back on this pledge, hiding behind an untrue claim that all shareholders have to be treated equally, and has not made any positive response to ETAG's approaches, leading to the obvious conclusion that there was no real intention to continue with the travel priveleges. In fact GET will treat shareholders differently, as new buyers will need 30,000 units to get the same near worthless offer now being made to existing shareholders with 1,000 units. The underhand manner in which this matter has been handled is a major issue in itself.

  • 95.
  • At 10:23 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Derek Long wrote:

An original 2/yr shareholder I am in full sympathy with the majority of the previous comments. I would willingly support the Shareholders Action group with cash if they could reply to emails about how they intend to 'mount a legal action' - on what grounds etc. If any pressure is to succeed and as the main small shareholders are non-UK, some broader EU support is required, preferably via the Commission. From an economic and environmental viewpoint the EU Commission needs the Tunnel for political ties, movement of goods/people from road to long distance rail etc to meet carbon reduction targets. Thus the Tunnel will remain - albeit under new ownership or with the current reorganisation. I do use my shares each year + other crossings and find the route smooth & easy. However I still retain my original P&O shares (held before the Tunnel) and those provide 50% discount out of Dover.

I wrote prior to the Shareholders letter to the CEO and highlighted the issue of founder shareholders - and received no reply. Likewise when emailing the Tunnel Shareholders website. If the current management cannot find a way to reconsider then I am quite prepared to vote against so that they in turn loose their 'privileges' by having this magnificent engineering project placed into bankrupcy.

If by forcing a 'delay' it is cheaper for the Board to reconsider the position of the founder shareholders then that would be a better option as ferries are really a step back into historical travel.

  • 96.
  • At 11:06 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Derek Taylor wrote:

I'm so outraged! It's true that part of my motivation for buying shares in 1987 was the prospect of travel 'perks' in my retired years, but I truly believed in the fixed link between the UK and European mainland. I showed my commitment by remortgagaing to buy enough shares and am still paying!!! The return for 20 years of commitment and loyalty is now to go to dust; this is completely unethical. That investment or rather DONATION to Eurotunnel could have earned me a fortune elsewhere, eg. telecoms, but I stuck with it and justified my investment by telling myself that at least I could use the travel concession on MY company. I agree that allowing Eurotunnel to collapse must be an option as even if the reorganisation went ahead, how could we believe anything we would be told by the company? By the way, what cocessions will board members/staff enjoy??

  • 97.
  • At 11:27 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Mike R wrote:

I accept that a lapse of nearly 20 years since the shares were originally offered may have faded the memory. However, I recall that any shares not purchased in the open market in Oct 87 (at £3.50 each) were sold to underwriters (at £2.35, I think). One could reasonably assume that purchasers of 1500 shares (the threshold level for securing lifetime cheap travel) did so merely for the travel privilege. Thus, if the travel privilege had not been offered, each block of 1500 shares would not have been sold to the public but instead would have had to be sold to the underwriters at a discount of £1.15 per share, thereby generating £1725 less for the company. Is my memory / understanding at fault or has the company conveniently forgotten the bonus it received at the time of floatation?

Taking this logic further, if one assumes that in fact only half of the 1500-share people purchased shares for the travel privilege alone, it means that some 2000 blocks of £1725 were gained by the company - which equates to about £3.5 million (at 1987 prices). The company says, apparently, that to allow the privilege to continue would cost £200,000 per year (at today's prices). Even if this figure were correct, and somehow didn't reduce as demography took its toll - and ignoring the effect of the difference betweeen 1987's and today's prices - it means that it would take over 17 years for the company's lost revenue to outweigh the advantage gained at the time of floatation.

As an aside, how apt that the original share floatation occurred only days after the great storm which affected Kent; it would appear the the storm has yet to blow over.

Yours in support.

  • 98.
  • At 11:39 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Christopher Read wrote:

According to the Securities Note issued with the offer Registration Document 'the travel privileges relating to the programmes put in place by Eurotunnel in 1987 and 1990 will not be cancelled as a result of the Offer or in the months following it. However, they may evolve or be cancelled in accordance with the applicable contractual terms which govern them.' (Securities Note 4.2.1. p.107) Does anyone know what this means? Does it represent a change of position or merely another piece of doublespeak? There is also an indication that the contractual terms will be displayed on the Eurotunnel website but they were not readily apparent when I last looked for them. Can anyone throw light on these questions?

  • 99.
  • At 03:53 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Ralph Ober wrote:

I grew up in England and during 15 years spent many hours hanging around the docks at Dover and Oostende waiting for trains & ferries. When the original offer was made, I was back working in Germany and drove to the nearest French border town to subscribe to 1500 shares to get the tunnel built. We took the risk on our investment, but we have been with the company for longer than any of the management. Emotionally, financially and legally we deserve our privileges.

  • 100.
  • At 12:20 AM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • John Wilkinson wrote:

Just another disheartened foundation share holder that feels he ought to add his name to the ever growing list of former lovers of eurotunnel.
only just recieved our offer pack and have not had a free day or two to read it through not that I really want to as my mind is already made up to support the fighting fund,the pack contained the acceptance form but I was puzzled to know where to put my definately not answer, Ideas anybody.

  • 101.
  • At 11:07 AM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • Isabelle Kay wrote:

I am a founder shareholder with 1500 shares. I am only willing to support the Action Group financially if they communicate the legal basis for their challenge. I have written to them about this a fortnight ago, but so far there has been no information.

  • 102.
  • At 01:47 PM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • Ray Cathode wrote:

I am gratified to see that although the board of Eurotunnel propose to remove founder shareholders' travel privileges, the board intends that its directors will get new GET share options subject to shareholders' approval. What hypocrisy.

  • 103.
  • At 09:45 PM on 15 Apr 2007,
  • Joseph, Maastricht, The Netherlands wrote:

I agree that with such a small amount of people who this impacts it is a pointless exercise from Eurotunnel to remove these benefits.

With the amount of bad press that this company seems to attract, I would have imagined that it would do everything in it's power to keep such a vocal group of shareholders happy.

I have no sympathy for some of the posters who are complaining that the current price of the shares purchased in 1987 are so low, no-one forced you to buy these shares, like any other share they can go up and they can go down.

No, my sympathy lies in the fact that you were offered unlimited lifetime travel and now that right could be removed.

It amazes me that some of the posters here think that because they were founder shareholders of Eurotunnel that somehow they are responsible for the prosperity of the 'Nord de France' region!, what arrogant tosh!.

I travel from Maastricht to London 5 times a month, I have been doing so for over 7 years, I use the ferry or the tunnel, normally, I have something to eat just before Calais, I would imagine that I spend more money then most of the posters in the Calais region, yet I make no claim to being responsible for the vibrant economy of this region.

The reason for the economy being so good is the amount of money invested by the EU.

To keep people on your side I suggest that you stick to the facts, otherwise you will come across as bad as the company you invested in.

  • 104.
  • At 09:55 PM on 15 Apr 2007,
  • Weston Howel wrote:

I am a founder shareholder with more than 2000 shares.The cost of motoring has increased so much that I use my travel concession less and less. It is cheaper for two to fly to Geneva than drive ,even with the concession on the Tunnel. I now keep a car at Geneva airport.
A 30% concession on Eurotunnel fares is useless.The management have got their sums wrong, because I for one will not be paying money to travel with them.
The Management has been devious at the best but in fact they have been truly dishonest. But what should we have expected when the French takeover was engineered by persons of doubtful.
I think liquidation is the best option for this company and will vote accordingly.

  • 105.
  • At 07:17 AM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Isabelle Kay wrote:

In message 101, I stated that my financial support for ETAG depended on having more information on the legal basis for the challenge. I am happy to say that the Press Release issued on 9th April satisfies me, and I have therefore made my contribution.

If support for ETAG is large, I think it necessary for Eurotunnel to be informed of the fact, so that they can reverse their decision and avoid jeopardising their restructuration.

Isabelle Kay

  • 106.
  • At 11:13 AM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Jim Cassels wrote:

While I appreciate that stern action has to be taken to save Eurotunnel from liquidation, I am appalled that those who provided the original finance to enable tunnelling work to commence and who have remained loyal to this most exciting engineering undertaking are now being so shabbily treated. I will join any efforts to ensure that the successor company fulfils its moral obligations.

  • 107.
  • At 10:39 PM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Mike Page wrote:

Like Isabelle Kay (101 & 105), in view of the recent reports and newsflash on the ETAG site,indicating that there really do seem to be grounds for a case, I,too,have decided to contribute to the fighting fund.

  • 108.
  • At 11:27 PM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Christopher Hart wrote:

The reference to the "applicable contractual terms in paragraph 4.2.1 of the Securities Note can now be found on the Eurotunnel website. The key one (Condition (b)) appears to be that which gives the Directors power, subject to approval by "an apprtopriate independent adviser" to terminate the 1987 and 1990 travel privileges if they are or become "materially prejudicial to the Unitholders as a whole".

It has to be questioned whether the true cost of these privileges has now become more prejudicial than in previous years. The number of 1987 and 1990 Unitholders must diminish with time as they die. Eurotunnel's claim that the privileges now cost them £200,000 per annum also seems incorrect. The true situation is similar to that on the railways where retired employees of British Rail enjoy free first class travel. An extra person on a heavy train does not add much to the fuel costs. The same applies to the extra weight of a car and passengers in relation to the fuel and labour costs of sending a shuttle train through the tunnel. The extra rolling resistance of the train is tiny and there is no increase in aerodynamic drag. Extra weight adds very little cost to a train journey but more by air.

Therefore the true cost of the travel privilege is the marginal cost. It is not the average cost nor is it the revenue from a fair paid trip. Eurotunnel cannot assume that all those who have travelled free will chose to travel at full fare less 30% instead. It seems from posts on this Blog that most will chosse not to travel by the Tunnel at all.

Eurotunnel need to think again. Firstly they should make it possible for Unitholders to tender their Units for the new GET SA shares but retain their travel privileges. This could be done by an executive decision to continue to accord these to those people who are now listed as eligable as people rather than as 1987 or 1990 Unitholders so that this matter is detached from the the tendering process.

Secondly Eurotunnel should calculate the true marginal cost of conveying an extra car and passengers and should charge that cost to those on the 1987 and 1990 lists. This will be more than the present booking fee but not much more. THey should also make the exercise of travel privileges subject to a condition that farepaying customers will have priority should a shuttle become fully booked. The privilege-holder would have to wait for an empty space.

If ETAG were to offer such a deal it would be a win-win situation. The host of small recent Unitholders would not suffer any materially prejudicial loss. ETAG members would have to pay a bit more and sometimes wait their turn but a means could be found for them to tender their Units for GAT SA shares. Their support might make the attainment of the 60% acceptance target much more probable than it may be now. We should therefore help the Eurotunnel Directors off the hook and give them no temptation to use these 1987 and 1990 "contractural terms" as a meanns to defeat any legal action by ETAG. It would be much better for ETAG to grasp the initiative and offer Eurotunnel such a compromise deal now.

  • 109.
  • At 09:16 AM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • Del Taylor wrote:

I so agree with the majority of posts, but am frustrated that all this is just being cynically ignored. The justice of the original shareholders' case for retention of their concession is blatantly obvious; promises were made, end of story. Where's the justice in making a promise - to ensure a large enough response to a flotation - then 'canceling' that promise at a later stage. No official organisation has confirmed that they have ordered Eurotunnel/GET to cancel this concession yet as we creep closer and closer to the deadline, with many of us determined to tell Eurotunnel where they can put their new shares (with little expected value for ages)we still have little hope that the board will see the 'rightness' of our case!!
Something must be done!! Where is the legal challenge? Time is running out and in common with other original shareholders I NEED to travel to France on a number of occasions each year as our family is now partly based there. Help!!!

  • 110.
  • At 01:32 PM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • Jim Price wrote:

Like most of the earlier contributors, I am dismayed by the threatened removal of the travel concessions given to the founder shareholders of Eurotunnel.

I have been involved with the fixed channel crossing for longer than most. In the early 1980s during the initial feasibility studies, I worked for GEC, one of the companies in a consortium proposing for a part-tunnel, part-bridge solution with two man-made islands, built of the spoil from the tunnel! Later, when the decision had been made to build the tunnel, I was involved in a study of the operational telecoms requirements and eventually the detailed, but regrettably unsucessful, offer made by GEC.

Having already spent several years working on the project, to me it was a no-brainer to become one of around 30,000 founder shareholders in 1987 who subscribed £5250 for 1500 shares when the opportunity arose. It was our utter belief in the success of the project, not just the prospect of the unlimited free crossings, that attracted most of us - attractive though the travel concession seemed.

Unlike many of those early participants, I did not bale out when the share price rose above £12 even though the money I could have made would have paid for a lot of 'free' journeys! I admit that I did take some small return, in that I sold my subsequent rights issues, a wise decision as was subsequently proved.

Let us suppose that all of the remaining 4000 of us took an average of four round trips a year (probably a high-side estimate), that represents about 140 train-loads, say one every two days taking into account those with lesser privileges. Is that going to break the Eurotunnel bank - I think not? But it is going to buy an awful lot of goodwill!

To discourage the few who may have over-used their privilege, I would even support a modest limit on the number of 'free' crossings and perhaps an increase could be imposed in the 'booking fee', if only to take account of inflation since 1987.

Come on M. Gounon, let's have some good old British fair-play, think again, you have negotiated a very successful deal with the banks to keep Eurotunnel operating. There is a way out of this supposed impasse over the travel concessions, use your negotiating skills to find it!

  • 111.
  • At 02:42 PM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • Paul Brewer wrote:

I submitted a post on Saturday which has not appeared for some reason, despite there being nothing untoward contained within it. It responded to post numbers 73 and 75 (the latter later renumbered 77) pointing out that as a founder shareholder with in excess of 1500 shares I am quite prepared to accept the investment loss of a fallen share price and no dividend, but I am NOT prepared to accept an abandoned promise without protest. I have joined ETAG and paid my subscription, and would urge ALL shareholders to do the same at

  • 112.
  • At 07:08 PM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • David wrote:

I voted for the conversion some months ago without bothering to investigate the detailed reasons for it, happy that I would be keeping the 'equivalent' travel privileges for my 1500 shares which I took to be an indication of honest intentions of the management. Only now, having no expertise in company law etc, am I wondering why this conversion has been required at all. If it does succeed it is likely to be by the conversion of just over 60% of the shares, which would imply that nearly 40% of the current shares in Eurotunnel could effectively disappear due to inaction by their holders.

That would be an attractive proposition for Eurotunnel's creditors faced with converting their debt into future equity. If that is the principal reason for the conversion, it seems morally a questionable one to me. But perhaps I am simply missing the point. Yet if 100% of the shares were to be converted, the whole exercise would seem pointless - the change from dual-listed to French-listed shares surely cannot be a major issue in itself. Why we are having to go through all this?

  • 113.
  • At 10:43 PM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • Janet Penton wrote:

We are shattered at the prospect of losing our travel privileges. The loss of our original investment does not worry us so much. Not because we are rich - the £5,250 spent represented our total savings! We knew it was a risky investment, but we wanted to "put our money where our mouth was" as we had supported the project in the face of a lot of opposition here in Kent. We have sent £150 to ETAG. If we can't have decent travel privileges we would rather see the company fold. Sadly, I suspect it will all end in tears!

  • 114.
  • At 08:18 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Roger Edgar wrote:

A comment following Christopher Hart's thoughtful and very thorough post (no. 108).

My recollection is that there was a limited power in the 1987 share issue to terminate the privileges of an individual, in order to protect against the possibility of someone like a rail fanatic spending the day shuttling back and forth. (Remember it was 'turn up and go' in the early days.)

I do not believe that this was ever intended as a power to suppress the whole scheme.

  • 115.
  • At 08:52 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Colin Sanders wrote:

Twenty years ago, like thousands of others, I was enthused by the bold Anglo French plan to build a tunnel under the Channel, so in the hope of making a bob or two (every investors goal), and receiving a handsome dividend by way of "guaranteed" near free unlimited crossings for life, invested for myself and each of our children.
The shares soared then collapsed, and along came Monsieur Gounon who fought hard to re-structure Eurotunnel's crippling debts, and I respect him and his colleagues for this huge effort.
But at the last moment, he renaged on the concession scheme, effecting a mere 4000 loyal shareholders, first blaming the British regulation authorities (shown to be a lie), and now French regulations (ETAG, where are you?). Why have they done this, antagonising their steadfast and long standing supporters? In passing, what happened to the promise to appoint one or more British Directors to the Board?
4.2.1 of the Securities document now appears to say we can keep the concession, BUT AT THE WHIM OF THE DIRECTORS. Yesterdays Times has Gouneron calling Etag's proposed action crazy, and re-iterating "this free privilge was killed".
If the Board irrevocably confirm we can keep the concession, I will vote in favour of the Offer, otherwise not.
The fine achievement of the Tunnel and it's infrastructure remain, and it might be best if Eurotunnel went into liquidation, eventually allowing a new owner owner to realise the potential of this splendid engineering feat.
Honesty and integrity will always out, and if Monsieur and his Board familiars do not play fair, they must face their Waterloo.

Dear M.Gounon

In October 2006 we were all pleased to read “In accordance with the French “Safeguard” law, the Board of Eurotunnel has today, Thursday 26 October 2006, approved proposals for a draft “Safeguard” restructuring plan, put forward by the company with the support of the representatives nominated by the Paris Commercial Court.

However. as a participator in the surveys for the ill fated 1972 Channel Tunnel studies and the manager of the definitive geophysical studies in 1986 and 1988 and naturally a foundation shareholder, I obviously had a concern for the continuance of the privilege of travelling in “my” tunnel.

On October 31st I therefore posed the question to the Shareholder Information Centre “Please advise what is intended with regard to the 1987 travel privilege should shares be transferred to Groupe Eurotunnel”. I was assured that “There is a provision for shareholder privileges, equivalent to those in existence, for those shareholders who participate in the Exchange Tender Offer (ETO) proposed in the Safeguard Restructuring Plan.”

This was underpinned by an attached copy of the November 6th newsletter which announced under item 2 of “The key elements of the financial restructuring plan” - “The creation of a new company, group Eurotunnel SA (GET SA) which the current shareholders will be invited to join via an ETO(1): This new structure is the lynchpin of the reorganisation. It will conserve the current Concession and its bi-national nature. It will offer travel privileges equivalent to those in existence for shareholders who participate.”

On January 19, Eurotunnel reiterated in Section 3 of the newsletter "At the time of the ETO, which will be the subject of a detailed prospectus, the shareholders will be offered the opportunity to exchange their shares for shares in Group Eurotunnel SA (1 for 1). The new structure will also offer travel privileges equivalent to the current ones."

You have therefore told me, not once, but three times that the shareholder privileges will continue in an equivalent form. I was brought up to believe that an Englishman’s word was his bond. In the spirit of the Entente Cordiale I would expect that an honest Frenchman could emulate this tradition.

You are really admired for what you have achieved on the debt front – don’t let this issue become the evil that lives after you, the good having been interred with your bones!

Yours sincerely,

John Arthur

  • 117.
  • At 11:19 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Hans Moerman wrote:

I am a Dutch constituting shareholder with 1500 shares. The only reason to invest in Eurotunnel was the contractual obligation to provide tickets at 1 GBP for the duration of the concession. I am not offering my original shares for shares in GET.

Mr Gounon keeps threatening us with bankruptcy and how low the value of the assets is. I sometimes wonder if bankruptcy isn't better if we have to lose the travel privileges anyway. A consortium would buy the operation cheaply and most likely would offer a better price for crossing the Channel than a ticket at 30% discount.

  • 118.
  • At 11:45 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

I hope that everyone who has written these posts have also written PERSONLLY to Monsieur Gounon.
I think it vital that he is deluged with correspondence and e-mails so he is in no doubt about our strong feelings and determination.

I urge you to do so

  • 119.
  • At 12:28 PM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Mike Page wrote:

Re my 107 - although now supporting ETAG, should it become apparent, closer to the deadline, that there is no chance of retaining my concession, I, and I hope others, will then feel obliged to support the offer on the grounds, as stated earlier, that I want the tunnel to keep running, with or without the concessions. Also with the hope that the GET shares might retain, and even increase in value, whereas those in Eurotunnel would presumably become worthless.

  • 120.
  • At 06:22 PM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • David Fenton wrote:

Reference 118 from Mike Page. Whatever happens the tunnel will not cease to operate. If Eurotunnel goes into liquidation the banks/administrator would continue to operate the tunnel until a suitable buyer came along. Without our travel privileges we would then be on a level playing field with all other ex-shareholders. The losers would be the current board of directors and other senior management. I will shed a tear!!!

  • 121.
  • At 09:08 AM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Jon Penton wrote:

I am surprised that the new directors of Eurotunnel are so eager to go into battle with over 4000 founder shareholders. All of these shareholders are enthusiastic supporters of the project from the concept and many, like myself, were involved in the design in every area of the construction. The new travel concessions proposed are pitched far too low to warrant enthusiastic support for the new proposal and I suspect almost all will reject it. We have nothing to loose and are now realizing that we might gain (at least in satisfaction) by the failure of this re-structuring.

We have all too often seen the efforts of a few French farmers or lorry drivers bring to a halt the entire channel ports system. I would think it quite likely that a handful of aggrieved former shareholders, with an intricate knowledge of the operations, could easily embarrass the operations of Eurotunnel for a prolonged period if direct action becomes necessary. At least we then have the satisfaction of seeing the financial collapse of those who have brought about our predicament.

  • 122.
  • At 09:18 AM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Derek Long wrote:

Re my Item 95.

I am pleased to say that ETAG has been very responsive, however the has failed to answer all my questions relating to the Offer since 28th March thro to 19th April.

I guess that sums up what Eurotunnel management think of shareholders!

I have sent my cheque into ETAG and booked a P&O Shareholders crossing for our main August holiday.

  • 123.
  • At 10:35 AM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • madeleine fowler wrote:

What a pity that Mr. Stainer (according to Sunday Telegraph - 15th April) seems at the outset to have let us say overindulged in his privileges. I suspect that he might have been very much in the minority. As I mentioned in a previous (but unpublished) blog, my husband and I both bought the 1500 shares, NOT for the perks but because the project was an engineering marvel, and, historically to be attached once more to mainland Europe a wonderfully romantic ideal - yes we have enjoyed the perks, but certainly not very regularly through the 20 years, as we have led busy lives and have had children to educate and get through university. As we approach retirement I quite look forward to taking the odd ferry ride - the Sea Cat has its own terminal at Dover and gets you over the water in 50 minutes - sounds fun. Whatever happens, the fact is the tunnel and its facilities are there and there to stay. We are supporting ETAG wholeheartedly and will vote against Eurotunnel - not because we are greedy but because we have been misled and lied to - and indeed, why are there no British directors on the board as raised in blog 115? Manipulation and failed promises seem to be the strength of this very Machievellian set up overseen by M Gounon.

  • 124.
  • At 11:53 AM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Keith Atkinson wrote:

Re 117 I've written personally to M Gounon; he's not even bothered to acknowledge receipt.
It worries me that people like 115 write about "voting" against the proposal; there is no vote! You tender yr shares or you dont. As Founder Shareholders we have nothing to gain by accepting M Gounon's valueless pieces of paper. Abstain from the offer and let it go into liquidation(maybe/maybe not) so eg Richard Branson(or someone like him) can run it properly to everyones' benefit and not the present Boards.

  • 125.
  • At 12:26 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Ifan M Hughes wrote:

I, and 2 other familly members are foundation shareholders with 2 concession journeys a year, and have subscribed to Acion Group.

Having received the offer documents a few days ago, I phoned the Eurotunnel Shareholder Information centre to enquire what the consequence would be if the offer was not taken up. The answer I received was that I would remain a Eurotunnel Shareholder. So, does this mean that the concession would continue to be valid? Or is Eurotunnel to be wound up and the concession lost that way, even if there are sufficient other acceptances for the restructuring to go ahead?

So I am undecided as to whether to take up the offer or not.

Any clarification gratefully received.

  • 126.
  • At 04:28 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • John Pilkington wrote:

My late wife and I bought separate parcels of Eurotunnel shares in the 1987 flotation and again in the 1990 rights issue. Our holdings were just sufficient to gain longlasting travel privileges for us and, later, our two children. We expected these privileges to last throughout the Eurotunnel concession. In fact we have used them only a very small number of times, but we believed that they would still be available for us, at low cost, when we did want to use them.

The privileges that came with our shares have always been clearly defined and strictly limited. They did not entitle us to the unlimited number of crossings that have featured in most of the media coverage that I have seen.

Rights to unlimited use were clearly always likely to be abused, and published anecdotes suggest that such abuse did happen. This might be one reason why it is proposed to end the special 'foundation' arrangements.

I am concerned that the ETAG, the action group, might concentrate its efforts on retaining the unlimited travel facilities enjoyed by its more vociferous members and that this emphasis may have already extinguished my more limited rights.

Perhaps, since 'unlimited travel' started at 1500 1987-shares and 'two return crossings per year' started at 1000 shares, it would be equitable to scale back the 'unlimited' category to one return crossing per year per 500 1987-shares still held?

  • 127.
  • At 05:27 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Keith Atkinson wrote:

Please can anyone tell me where on the Eurotunnel website to find the "Applicable Contractual terms" of the shareholder travel priviledges which the Securities Note para 4.2.1 promised would be made available "on the Eurotunnel Internet Website at the latest on the opening date of the offer" ie 10th April. I can only find old historical stuff. I emailed the Eurotunnel s/holder info address but of course have received no answer.

Did you know Gounon gets £150,000 a year plus,in March 07, a bonus of £65000 to treat shareholders in this way? Its a gravy train not a Shuttle!

  • 128.
  • At 09:07 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Anthony Stevens wrote:

I faxed a letter to Mr Gounon on the 3rd April summarising many of the points outlined above. I received an acknowledgement today 19/04 albeit without responding to my points and from a Nathalie Ries at the Shareholder Info Cntr. in Folkestone.

I haven't read in detail the 125 postings but how many people bothered to vote when the French shareholders hijacked the company?

For us voting for the restructuring seems pointless. If we travel regularly we would be better to take a frequent traveller 'pack'. Moreover if the company goes bankrupt it will be free of debt and therefore more able to be flexible on fares.

If the board are prepared to bribe us with the 30% privileges and warrants why were they not prepared to meet us in terms of their historic obligations.

Remaining in Eurotunnel PLC does appear to offer a short term solution with regards to privileges which may be longer term if the board gets over 60%.

  • 129.
  • At 10:12 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • John Barker wrote:

I really would like to know why Mr Gounon is behaving in the way he is, because he surely must have some hidden agenda.

Why else would he first say that the travel privileges would remain and then give totally spurious reasons for abolishing them, especially as the cost of the concession can't really be too significant. To make matters worse he then accuses foundation shareholders of being "crazy" for complaining about the contempt he is showing towards them.

I, like many others, am becoming increasingly desperate about the current situation but how to do something about it is not obvious.

Initially I had some faith in ETAG but am now losing confidence that they will achieve anything.

For a start the website really does not inspire confidence, merely being part of The Grand's site and particularly as it still appears to have a glaring error, stating "700-1499 units with one free journey @50%". Apart from being wrong, one free journey @50% just looks ridiculous.

When I contacted ETAG and mentioned this, together with asking what plans they had for preserving the travel privileges and how they could justify the fighting fund contributions, their reply was most disappointing.

In conclusion I can but hope that common sense and justice will prevail but am not at all confident. Had Eurotunnel gone bankrupt I would have been upset to have lost the travel privileges but to lose them due to an act that appears to be nothing other than petty spite makes things much worse.

  • 130.
  • At 09:28 AM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Isabelle Kay wrote:

In the article in the Times of 19 April, M.Gounon refers to founder shareholders as 'crazy' to have expected to have carried forward their privileges. In so doing, he admits that he is crazy himself for having initially assured us that we would do so, or, more likely, that this assurance was intended to mislead us into voting for his scheme.

I am still hoping that his scheme will be delayed until the courts have considered our claim that it is a device for Eurotunnel to avoid their contractual obligations to us.

I would be interested in receiving an update on our progress towards achieving that.

  • 131.
  • At 10:25 AM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Stephen C wrote:

The fact that M. Gounon referrs to founder shareholders as "crazy" will hardly enamour him to them. It also demonstrates his lack of empathy for the most loyal group of "stakeholders" who have been in it for the long term unlike the new Board at Eurotunnel.

M. Gounon needs to understand that the founder shareholders are now very annoyed with him and feel that they have been shabbily treated by him and his custom of moving the goal posts when his previous arguments are shown to be inaccurate.

We founder shareholders really want to hang on to our travel "rights" and obviously hope that Eurotunnel prospers but we are not bluffing as the travel rights are far more valuable than survival of the company and our rather low value shares. As someone else pointed out the tax losses are much more valuable than the shares anyway.

In M.Gounon's interests he needs to confirm the existing travel privileges will remain and get on with his job which is saving the company and being a little politer to his shareholders.

  • 132.
  • At 10:33 AM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Rowena Vincent wrote:

Although we receive the 30% discount at the moment I agree that it has very little monetary value. Neverthless, although the cost may be higher than the ferries, we feel that the faster and more frequent crossings and the comfort of one's own car more than make up for this.

Re 125 - I, also, would be pleased to receive clarification about the possible consequences of not accepting the offer. Perhaps bankruptcy would be the better option after all.

  • 133.
  • At 09:53 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Peter Annereau wrote:

I, too, wrote complaining to M. Gounon. The reply I eventually received from the Shareholder Information Centre addressed none of my points but just expressed understanding of my "disappointment". It looked like a standard reply -- no doubt they've had too many letters for them to reply individually.
My reading of the additional information in the Securities Note indicates to me that if we don't submit our shares for the exchange our existing rights will continue for a few months (until November?) but if we do submit them our rights will be terminated immediately.
Gounon says we must suffer the pain like the creditors and bondholders. We already have -- we have seen the value of the shares plummet from the £3.50 we paid to just a few pence. Those who have come along since, and who will continue to receive the 30 per cent discount they already enjoy, generally bought their shares cheaply and have not displayed the loyalty shown by the foundation shareholders.
If the restructuring fails it will be a case of the ship being lost for the want of a ha'p'orth of tar.

  • 134.
  • At 11:48 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Are shareholders aware that there is to be an extraordinary general meeting on 23rd April, to approve the issue of the new shares? Who has been invited to the meeting and where and when is it to be? Has sufficient notice been given? Is the meeting and are its resolutions legal?

  • 135.
  • At 11:04 AM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Appalled Colin Sanders wrote:

Founder Shareholders should note duplicitous Eurotunnel have ALREADY stolen our Concession, in that it expired on their booking website after 30 Nov 2007, bookings from 1 Dec being offered the insulting 30%. Note, Eurotunnel has done this, not GET which is not even up and running. This makes 4.2.1 a sick joke.
If Monsieur wants our shares, and they just might tip the balance for the Offer his way, then he must immediately stop this spiteful petty nonsense and confirm our proper rights will be honoured (and in view of past experience, it will have to be a cast iron guarantee).

  • 136.
  • At 03:39 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Further to my posting of yesterday evening, concerning a report of a Eurotunnel egm announced for 23rd April 2007. I note that it has not been displayed. As I can find no other reference to it online (including Eurotunnel's press release list), perhaps you could continue to not display that posting, please.

I will make further enquiries about this. The report dated 20th April should have been reliable but perhaps it was a mistake.

  • 137.
  • At 03:40 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Further to my posting of yesterday evening, concerning a report of a Eurotunnel egm announced for 23rd April 2007. I note that it has not been displayed. As I can find no other reference to it online (including Eurotunnel's press release list), perhaps you could continue to not display that posting, please.

I will make further enquiries about this. The report dated 20th April should have been reliable but perhaps it was a mistake.

  • 138.
  • At 06:14 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • scott stapleton wrote:

Outrageous! I will not be signing the transfer documents and we'll see what happens. Being the owner of 1000 + 600 shares I have 2 free trips a year + one at 50% discount. Somewhere along the line, I picked up an additional 3 return trips per year at 30% discount as well. So perhaps M. Gounon can explain how the word "intends" (in the share exchange document)to provide similar privileges by the addition of 3 x 30% discounted trips per year can be considered equitable. As a frequent traveller across the channel my attraction to Eurotunnel was the offer of all weather travel at the drop of a hat. It was "show up" and "go" for most of the year. The British fobia about booking everything a year in advance put an end to that one. Clever Eurotunnel have now moved on to an EasyJet pricing system - the earlier you book the cheaper it is - so that's gone to. Invariably, if I need to go next week to the UK, Eurotunnel will be the most expensive carrier even minus the 30%. I have already purchased the 12 ticket flat rate offer with Speedferries so Eurotunnel won't be getting any additional income from me. Not as good but faster than the ferries.
Excluding the loss of interest, I reckon I have broken even and will draw the line there. Any chance of converting it to a road tunnel?

  • 139.
  • At 06:54 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Brian Terrell wrote:

It is comforting to see such practically unanimous sentiments in what has to be one of the most intelligent and interesting blogs I have seen for a long time.

Although I have little doubt that Mr. Gounon and his board will attempt to wriggle, from a purely legal standpoint it would appear at present that if founder shareholders do not tender their shares they will retain their current travel privileges. One would have thought that giving encouagement not to tender shares is hardly what Mr. Gounon had intended.

Having now read in detail the complete offer documentstion, it is I think worth mentioning that although perfectly legal, there is in practical terms serious discrimination to the detriment of english shareholders. In brief, shareholders who choose to take their shareholding in GET S.A. in a form which is readily tradeable in the U.K. via CREST will have only half the voting power compared with french shareholders who use the direct registration mechanism. Although in theory, english shareholders can also take their shareholding in the same way as the french, for most english shareholders it will be complex and costly to do this. The effect is that virtually complete control of the company will pass to the french holders and the english investors will be effectively disenfranchised.

The offer documentation is sufficiently lengthy and complex that it is probable that many english shareholders will fail to understand the implications.

I strongly suggest that all interested shareholders be they founder shareholders or not, give their support to the ETAG group who are at least making a real effort to support shareholder interests.

  • 140.
  • At 09:58 AM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • Keith J. wrote:

Reading through these "blogs" I am tempted to react by saying "Grow up". The simple fact is that we made a duff investment, while the accounts for the past dozen years and any reasonable assessment of the commercial future must lead to the conclusion that the concern is, quite simply, not worth what was paid for it. While "perks" are not normally a good basis for investment decisions, in our case they have at least enabled us to get some sort of (tax-free) return. Thers is also much talk of "loyalty". Apart from the fact that limited liability implies limited loyalty, true loyalty to our company would have involved not using the concessions which must have contributed (albeit in a very small way) to our company's downfall

The major problem has been the large number of unsophisticated French investors, who were cruelly misled into piling into the shares under the impression that this was a safe investment. When this created the "bubble" in the early 90's they were persuaded to invest even more and many have now lost serious money, and they are understandably resentful. (Read Le Scandale Eurotunnel by Marc Fressoz). This has resulted in some ridiculous antics as they(and some dubious "leaders") have thrashed about in attempts to save the situation, and made it very difficult to propose a rescue plan which they might accept.

Meanwhile, the more sophisticated British investor appreciated that any future returns on this risky investment (even including the "perks") were highly speculative and the best bet was to realise the investment at this inflated price. I only retained my shares as I liked the idea of involvement in this great adventure which I could see developing down the road. Although my 5,000 shares are a drop in the ocean, I am proud of having contributed to this great historic achievement which puts France 35 minutes away and Paris in 2 hours - in comfort and any weather. And I do not find a 30% discount unattractive in the circumstances.

The question now becomes, what can be done to rescue what we can. In this we are fortunate as French law is notably more sympathetic to the position of shareholders versus creditors, and Gounon has done a great job in the share of the business he hopes to save for us. It is probably too generous in financial terms, and this will still remain a risky investment, but it has to be like this if there is to be any hope of its acceptance by the shareholders. If he has overlooked the sensitivities of some British investors in all this complexity, we should surely be big enough to forgive and move on.

We have to accept that it is more than likely that we are still going to end up by losing everything. The 60% acceptance is a very high hurdle and many French may still believe that the State will come riding to their rescue if they reject it. We British know better!

  • 141.
  • At 11:22 AM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • katrien tangney wrote:

I think it is time that we simply votewith our cars.
Lets just block off the tunnel,and
cause a stack to Watford !
Then Gounon and his cronies will know we mean business.

  • 142.
  • At 10:57 PM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • Zorenah Clark wrote:

In reply to Kieth. Are you being serious? Or have you taken a punt at these cheap shares?.
Making a poor investment is not our reason for being angry. M. Gounon who had our support and admiration has now totally lost it because of his duplicitous behaviour. HAD HE COME BACK FROM THE PARIS COMMERCIAL COURTS and announced that he had tried but was unable to save the perks I am sure most of the foundation shareholders might have understood his predicament. We were not responsible for the document sent to us on the 15th January following his successful negotiations in the Paris Courts. Why the volte farce and the lies concerning the travel privileges two weeks later? He has been insulting to perhaps the most loyal and patient shareholders by calling us CRAZY. Our duff investment of £5250 is now only worth £250. Do you really think we would care if it goes into liquidation now for the temporarary privilege of 30% travel?
We are proud to have supported such a fine project. It will not revert to a big hole and hopefully once in liquidation the new owners will have to be competitive and we shall continue to use it with the new owners. My advice to you Keith, is to sell all those extra shares before it drops to 11p by the deadline of the 15th May. Wake up M.Gounon - we are angry and crazy. You will probably be out of a job.

  • 143.
  • At 07:51 AM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Further to my postings of 20th and 21st concerning an extraordinary general meeting to be held today, 23rd April. I have traced this to a joint GET SA/Eurotunnel press release of 20th April. Although shown on the GET SA press release list, in French, there is no sign of a similar item in either French or English, on the Eurotunnel press release list as at 7.30am 23rd April.

The time and location of the meeting is not given. However, no doubt, all shareholders will have been notified and perhaps representatives of ETAG and other interested founder shareholders will have attended to express their views.

  • 144.
  • At 09:43 AM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • John Coates wrote:

ETAG should send copies of The Pied Piper of Hamelin to the Eurotunnel Board

  • 145.
  • At 11:54 AM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Michael P wrote:

I am a foundation shareholder and share the outrage expressed elsewhere at the breach of the original contract that M. Gounon has sanctioned. I shall not tender my shares and I shall vote against this restructuring in its present form if an egm does take place.

Two aspects that haven't been commented on might be worth pursuing. A Eurotunnel document that can be viewed at
is described as a note summarising the main elements of the Safeguard Plan approved by the Paris Commercial Court on 15/01/07. Paragraph 5 of this document states "...they will benefit from travel privileges equivalent to those available today" whereas a footnote labelled erratum says in order to reflect the exact wording of the safeguard plan .... this should read "they will continue to benefit from preferential tariffs for transport granted by Eurotunnel"
Having looked at the document properties I see that it was created on January 19th and modified on April 13th so it might be useful for a lawyer to find out exactly what the French Commercial Court thought that it had approved and if the goalposts have been moved by Eurotunnel by the use of weasel words that could be another way of derailing the current offer by going back to the court with a complaint.

As a second thought perhaps now might be a good time to attempt to make a post December 1st booking and then make a small claim against Eurotunnel for their failure to honour the £1 fare - I just tried and was offered either £22 or £27 one way depending on the time of travel with no explanation as to how this had been calculated.

  • 146.
  • At 01:09 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • John Dolman wrote:

Perhaps those Equity 3 UK shareholders even considering accepting the present Eurotunnel - GET offer should remember you most likely have less to loose from not accepting the offer than accepting it, even if the present Eurotunnel shares become worthless. This is because, if the Eurotunnel shares are not tradeable and have no value, one may apply for the Eurotunnel shares to be classed as negligiable value for CGT purposes and then off-set any other gains against them in 2007-8 or future years. This would allow you to recover up to £2,100 in tax that would otherwise be paid on other capital gains. It would pay for a lot of ferry crossings on Sea France (usually the cheapest crossing). In addition if you join the YHA (Youth Hotel Ass.) you get 15% off Sea Frances cheapest fares (not just off the standard fare).

  • 147.
  • At 02:03 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Andrew Hughes wrote:

There was never an intention to appoint a British Director to the Board of the two Eurotunnel companies despite all the proclamations that this would happen.Since the boardroom coup of 2005 the French board and its activist shareholder groups have always been greedily aware of the value of an expensive and very efficient piece of engineering kit. If the ETO fails don't be surprised if the French Government don't bail the operation out in some way.

The British government has sleep-walked into a situation which has allowed control of a vital link in its supply chain to slip into the hands of a wholly French company and British shareholders are being treated with contempt. Perhaps, even this late in the day, our elected representatives should carefully consider whether they should review the licensing of the whole operation so that British interests are being protected.

There seems to be little reason for Foundation Shareholders to support the Exchange Tender offer and there is every likelihood that the company will fail to achieve its 60%.

If it does achieve this, however, it will have lost the goodwill of many British travellers who make up the great majority of non- commercial tunnel users, which in turn will affect the viability of its commercial future.

The offer document is potentially misleading over the question of the future of travel privileges and suggests , as it is written, that these would remain available to those who do not exchange old for new.

It is not, therefore,in the interests of privilege holders to do so as privilege-holding shares in the old companies would still be valid until eventually they are wound up. This might well take years.

Overall, a complete tragedy which can only be resolved by M. Gounon taking sensible and conciliatory action before it is too late.

  • 148.
  • At 02:45 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • James Angry wrote:

I would support Katrien's idea of a blockade (post 141).
We are still allowed to 'protest' - look how succesful the lorry drivers were with the fuel duty protest a few years ago, not to mention French farmers, fishermen etc.
Anyone else willing give their support?

Very Angry

  • 149.
  • At 03:43 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Patman wrote:

As one of the original shareholders with the lifetime £1 each way, in it for the fun of the concession and not for the investment, I have just spent an enjoyable afternoon swatting up all of the varied opinion of these postings. I am now ready and equiped to write my thesis. How we all read the fairy story in the original offer document and sat there like wide eyed 4 year olds listening to mothers' bed time offerings. Remember the forcasts, the numbers travelling, the opening date, the projected share price at opening, the dividends. Oh what joy. Well, we have all lost our money but from a great number of the postings it seems to me 'are we bovvered?' Course not, we're British. We came into the world 'wiv nuffin' we go out 'wiv nuffin' so what have we lost 'nuffin'. I'm going to have a bit of fun on this last episode and keep my shares, just for the hell of it. They might go bust or not, someone will take over or not, tickets prices may go down or not. What more excitement can you ask for? One things for sure, the tunnel can't go away and the ferries can come and go whenever they sniff a profit. The tunnel is stuffed for making serious money so if I loose my concession, I'm not bovvered. Hey ho silver. Into battle- God speed for Harry and St. George (or whatever)

  • 150.
  • At 03:56 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • John Dolman wrote:

The EGM of Groupe Eurotunnel SA on the 23rd April is now in English at

In speaking with the ETO helpline number (0808) 234 4054 and asked what would happen to shareholders who do not accept the present offer, I was told to refer to chapter 4. When I said this really did not say what was going to happen, I was told that the helpline assistance's manager said I should phone Computershare on (0870) 7030039. At Computershare I got a new story as below:
Question: As having 1500 Equity 3 shares, what happens if I do not accept the offer and the 60% GET offer is achieved? Answer: 1) Eurotunnel shares are expected to be delisted and the shares will not be tradeable, 2) Present travel rights will cease immediately the 60% acceptance is achieved and be substituted by the 30% GET discount offer, 3)Eurotunnel Plc is expected to be wound-up and present Eurotunnel shareholders will receive any future dividends as GET shareholders. The Computershare representative confirmed there seemed to be no difference in what one gets if one does not accept the offer to that if 60% of the Eurotunnel GET offer is accepted.
So nothing to gain by accepting offer.
Jacques Gounon has not achieved where he has got to with the bankers et al by a non-calculating strategy, tactics and negotiations. This would appear the approach he is now taking with the travel rights equity shareholders. It would appear the only way to preserve the rights will be to ensure his perceived cost of keeping our travel rights is less than action we may take.

  • 151.
  • At 08:49 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Congratulations to John Dolman on finding the English translation of the documents. However, I personaly, could find no reference to any extraordinary general meeting.

As at 8.00pm on 23 April, there is still no reference to this in the Eurotunnel press releases.

Did the extraordinary general meeting take place on 23rd April 2007? If so, were all shareholders invited to attend? If not, why not? What was the result of the meeting?etc, etc.

  • 152.
  • At 11:12 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Jez wrote:

France is not the third world, but this episode makes it begin to look like it. I cannot start to imagine how such a huge series of negotiations, all moderated by the French Commercial Court, can have resulted in a situation where no-one knows what the underlying details of the proposals are nor how the various scenarios might unfold. It makes it seem as though the deals were gone through and the papers produced for the fees, not the end result.

Be that as it may, I share others' views on the apparent perfidy in going back on a clear and repeated undertaking, yet without explaining why it has to be done. Not only have the Board been unable to stand up the suggestion that it was imposed by either the UK or French regulators, but the proposals they put forward are quite clearly discriminatory between classes of shareholders, thereby undermining their basic argument that discrimination is not permitted.

All things considered, I do not want to be vindictive to the project I backed from the start, but I am bound to support my own interests too in preserving the privileges. The IPO shares have already lost a far greater percentage of their original value than the debt, so I don't see any reason to buy this view that we must accept the risks of equity investment - we did, I do, but that doesn't support the privileges being stolen as well, unless the company goes bankrupt and is taken over by the banks. As that is (probably) not to happen, courtesy of M Gounon and his ability to negotiate a deal under the French system, then the privileges must remain. I see no other way forward, and no reason why it is not possible.

If the tender for exchange does not reach the 60% figure, we seem to be in uncharted territory and I assume it will result in delays at best, or greater losses for everybody at worst. If that is true, perhaps the risk will force a rethink. Having said that, the strong possibility that 60% will not be achieved, no matter what the founder shareholders do, would seem to indicate that fall-back scenarios will be under serious consideration. Does anyone know what they are likely to be? Are we fighting a rearguard action that will never come into play?

All in all, it's simply bizarre.

I see that Blog 129 from John Barker complains at 10.12pm on 19th April that he had an inadequate response to his email to ETAG sent at 3.26pm that day. He must be referring to the standard acknowledgement of receipt.
At 5.26pm the following day he was sent an extensive response among other thngs pointing out postings on the ETAG website that went some way towards answering his questions. He acknowledged this response later that evening.

  • 154.
  • At 01:42 PM on 24 Apr 2007,
  • Tim Jenkins wrote:

I have read, with admiration, the commentaries on this blog, and in particular number 116 from John Arthur.

As he quite correctly points out, there have been three published statements from Eurotunnel that travel privileges for existing shareholders taking up shares in GET wil be "equivalent to those in existence".

If GET were intending to change the "value" or "level" of privileges for different shareholders in Eurotunnel, why did they not mention this at the time of those published statements?

I think that Mr Gounon has done an admirable job to shape the restructuring of the company, but I belive the moment has come for him to admit his lack of disclosure and to offer an olive branch.

  • 155.
  • At 03:22 PM on 24 Apr 2007,
  • Paul Brewer wrote:

For the second week running my Saturday morning posting has not appeared. I wrote in response to John Pilkington (126) to point out that Eurotunnel shareholders using their concessionary travel are not abusing anything, regardless of how often they may do so. They are no different than season ticket holders attending football matches, parking their cars or travelling to work on a daily basis. They are merely using what they have paid for, and have every right to expect to continue so to do.

I'm certain most have not managed to travel as often as they would have wished, due to work and other commitments. I have only managed about 12 crossings, an average of no more than one each year, but I have always hoped to make more trips in retirement.

I do urge ALL shareholders to stand firm in resisting the loss of these travel rights. A new operator taking over following bankruptcy would almost certain offer lower fares than the GET SA fares less 30%.

  • 156.
  • At 11:36 AM on 25 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Essex wrote:

M. Gounan can indeed be praised for his negotiation skills with the Banks and Bondholders over a long period of time. However, he seems to be almost petulant in his attitude towards the vociferous criticism he is now receiving from aggrieved Founder Shareholders.

He forgets or chooses to forget that it was only because of the Founder Shareholders that the project got underway in the first instance. There would be no Tunnel otherwise. The technical risks that the tunnel couldn't be built were very real in the mid 80s.

Founder Shareholders are not "crazy" (as reported in the Times 17/4/07) - but they do see that they have been lied to and that their meaningful benefit - guaranteed at the outset for the length of the concession - is to be removed at the behest of one man !

Some contributors to this blog have sought to minimise this as simply a battle over "perks" but it was a contractual right that was granted to these Founder Shareholders. Others have criticised ETAG implying they are inefficient. However, they forget that it is the only vehicle we have for ordinary people to come together and mount a Class Action inexpensively. With the maximum shareholder involvement, it becomes only a modest cost and I would urge others to join.

  • 157.
  • At 12:47 PM on 25 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Well, it seems that I can answer my own questions of 20th and 23rd April, so I shan't need to bore this site with them again. The extraordinary general meeting did indeed take place on 23rd April. It was the egm of the new companies, which conferred a variety of rights on the Boards of Directors of the new companies.

Seems a bit dubious to me, if the existing shareholders were not involved. However, as the company is reported to have spent £89 million on solicitors' fees for this scheme, I guess it will be covered.

Bon voyage!

  • 158.
  • At 03:29 PM on 25 Apr 2007,
  • Kevin Carr wrote:

I write this on the assumption ET is far more likely to take note of public debate than numerous private individual emails/letters referred to in the blog.

I have a simple choice. Accept the offer and receive new travel rights worth nothing (it will be cheaper to take advantage of off-peak/special tickets) and shares of limited value or decline the offer and spend £150 to help ETAG fight to protect my rights and face the possibility that I will lose the rights and value (virtually nil) of my existing shares which has the consequence (bonus?) of giving me a CGT loss which can be used and the probability of lower ET shuttle fares in the future under new ownership should the restructuring plan fail.

My travel rights have a real value as does the collapse of the restructuring deal assuming the threat of liquidation is carried out. The alternative has negligible value. I believe the expression is 'no brainer'.

I am not crazy M Gounon. Neither are you. Your record shows that you are a highly intelligent man given to analysis not emotion. The ETAG site shows us that you were warned of the likely strong feelings and consequences of ET's actions and asked to reconsider.

What, I wonder, are you really up to? Is it possible you seek an excuse for the failure of the offer? Is it possible that an investor is waiting in the wings ready to scoop up a bargain? Have any 'deals' been made? Or are you so scared of the (french) majority of shareholders rebelling against a plan being interpreted as giving costly and unnecessary benefits to an (english) minority. Or is it good old 'cock-up'?

I think we should be told. Why not use this BBC blog to communicate with us?

  • 159.
  • At 05:46 PM on 25 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Patman wrote:

I see from various postings that the new Company has spent something in excess of 80 million in setting up this takeover or whatever it is called. Gounon must have been working very hard, yet he cannot (or will not) sort out a piddling problem that Eurotunnel say is currently costing them 200 thousand pounds p.a. and that figure must reduce as we drop off the perch - not many of us will see the end of the concession! If I was Gounon, I would not want that on my C.V.

  • 160.
  • At 11:05 PM on 25 Apr 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

I find it quite extraordinary that we are being treated in this way by Eurotunnel. I have been waiting in the wings hoping that the Company will do a u-turn. Unless and until it does I for one will not tender my shares.

What concerns me, however, is that the longer this goes on the more harm it does to our Company. I just hope Mons Guinon sees these comments and takes note. If he does back down he can still salvage the situation, and regain our loyalty and support. If he doesn't he faces either losing because he fails to get the necessary 60%, or "winning" ( most likely scaping through) and facing protracted litigation and, from what I have been able to glean, the real possibility of having to pay out massive compensation and costs.

Mons Guinon I implore you to reconsider.

  • 161.
  • At 09:08 AM on 26 Apr 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Ah! some really good responses coming in. If the public debate is brought to M Gounon's attention, he cannot later claim that the failure to achieve 60% was due to the stupidity and illogicality of British founder shareholders.

Will M Gounon be brave or courteous enough to respond to Mr Carr's request for a reply to this BBC blog? Somehow, I doubt it. I think that the French ticket inspector will remain hidden in the guard's van until after 15th May. How will he spend his time there? Perhaps dreaming of the procedes of the future fire sale.

Time was when you could sell the Tower Bridge for scrap to a rich American. Nowadays, the Chinese have a lot of the spare capital, maybe they would be interested in a working tunnel between Xiamen and Taiwan. It's a bit short but would be a good start. But why pay the transportation costs when you can leave it in place? What a wonderful, ready built landfill site. There's no shortage of rubbish either side of the channel,the EUrocracts will pay billions for it. Ah, sweet dreams M Gounon.

  • 162.
  • At 11:17 AM on 26 Apr 2007,
  • John Frederics wrote:

I have just returned from a holiday and I am dismayed, but not surprised, at the news of our loss of travel privileges. I am a foundation shareholder and have used my two trips privilege since the first crossings in late ’94 early ’95. I travel to Brittany some 4 to 5 times a year using Brittany Ferries in Winter/Spring (cheaper than Summer) and Eurotunnel in Summer. For me the travel privilege has acted as a dividend by substituting a £3-400 ferry crossing by a £2 tunnel charge (plus extra diesel costs). So roughly speaking the privilege has saved me thousands of pounds at the cost of a reduced value of shareholding. I am sad that Mr Gounon has reneged on his promise to protect the travel privilege but he has probably weighed up the number of mainly British users of the travel privilege (I did see one Dutch tunnel user blogging in as well) and decided the overwhelming French shareholders will see him reach the 60%. Aside from the crude way we founder shareholders have been treated, I don’t think GET SA will exist for long. The company is ripe for someone to take it over and run it properly ie. commercially. So the decision is to stand and fight or possibly salvage something from the wreckage of Eurotunnel by handing in my shares. I have two journeys left this year so the decision may be fairly obvious.

  • 163.
  • At 12:13 PM on 26 Apr 2007,
  • David Cawthra wrote:

I have caught up with all of this a little late - I am only just back from France having just used my travel perk for the first time this year. I am a founder shareholder who was very much involved in the creation of Eurotunnel and in the construction of the tunnel and perhaps I am one of the few who invested with the prime objective of backing the venture with little thought about the value of the two "free" trips a year my 1000 shares gave me. The perk is now however very important to me both financially and as a matter of principle.

I simply can't believe that, having seen the reassurances provided by Jacques Gounon about preservation of the founder shareholders' benefits, he would remove them at this late stage and quote dubious grounds for doing so. Like others who have written before me I was dismayed over the removal of the previous board and had the gravest of misgivings over the ability of the new board to keep up a good service and take the company through the tricky negotiations ahead. But based on what I have seen and been told I have admired what has been achieved and have been disquieted as various creditor groups have sought to protect their positions and potentially scupper the restructuring. But at the end of the day all these groups had to take a pragmatic view and after playing "hard ball" accept the best deal they could get. Eurotunnel's suppliers had to decide similarly.

But now it is the turn of the founder shareholders to decide. What is absolutely clear to me is that if a founder shareholder accepts the offer presently weighing down our desks then it will write off a benefit that has value that we can each assess according to our future travel expectations. On the other hand if we accept the offer we will still hold shares that are of no great value and a perk that is temporary and for at least in part illusory in that 30% off a standard fare is probably more expensive than a promotional fare - even now I don't always use the 30% deal. Whilst we in the end may not be able to realise the value of the perks, I cannot see any founder shareholder that even takes a pragmatic view tendering its shares and for us it really is a "no brainer" and is demonstrably not bluster on our part. Such action may or may not scupper the restructuring. If it doesn't then we still have a position on our perks that we can defend. If it does we have not lost very much.

My initial thoughts about ETAG was that sending money to fund a challenge would be throwing further good money down the drain. However like Isabelle Kay I am very satisfied with what ETAG are doing and I've signed up and sent a cheque this morning. Any legal challenge that can be mounted will have teeth because for once the threat of liquidation if the challenge causes delay does no real harm to this group.

I really cannot comprehend why the Board of Eurotunnel have opted take this risk to generate a revenue that most of us think is just as illusory as the value of the future 30% discount is to sharehloders, after all the good progress that they have achieved. Lets hope that they see sense. If not I can certianly put up with going by sea!

  • 164.
  • At 03:45 PM on 26 Apr 2007,
  • Derek Long wrote:

At last some information from the Shareholders Department. In reply to my question on 4.2 a sub paragraph on Specification of travel privileges that " it is specified that the travel privileges relating to the programmes put in place by Eurotunnel in 1987 and 1990 will not be cancelled as a result of the Offer or in the months following it. However, they may evolve or be cancelled in accordance with the applicable contractual terms which govern them. A description of the applicable contractual terms in this respect will be made available to the public on the Eurotunnel Internet website at the latest on the opening date of the Offer."

It then states " The Unitholders tendering their Units will no longer be able to benefit from travel privilges relating to the programmes put in place by Eurotunnel in 1987 & 1990.

Can you please clarify as a 1987 shareholder with privileges. Are they to remain (ie not cancelled) or 'no longer able'? Not a lawyer but one who attempts to follow HMG's policy on 'simple English' - what is the current situation."

The Department replies: "If you tender your shares, and if the offer is successful, you will no longer be eligible for the 1987 or 1990 travel privileges. Should you decide not to tender your shares, your travel privileges will not be cancelled as a result of the Offer or in the months following it. However, they may be cancelled in accordance with the applicable contractual terms which govern them.

Please click on the link below to view an extract of the general terms.

Everyone much the wiser?

  • 165.
  • At 04:29 PM on 26 Apr 2007,
  • Andy Dransfield wrote:

I've only just found this Blog after visiting the ETAG site, and that only because I found a reference in a back copy of The Telegraph that I was putting into a recycling bag. I wonder how many other Founder Shareholders were / are ignorant about ETAG?

I was absolutely livid when I received my copy of the 'offer' and had already decided to reject it. Although I have an unlimited 'privilege', I have only used it perhaps 10 times in total. I knew that my original investment was risky, but I was excited about being involved in a fascinating engineering project and the prospect of being able to use 'my' tunnel free in the future. I may only have spent £20 with Eurotunnel directly, but my indirect spend at the terminals and in Northern French hypermarkets has been enormous. It's only just worth taking the 'duty free' trip to France with the concession fare - it certainly won't be at only 30% off! GET wouldn't be losing any revenue from me - I won't use the tunnel in future.

I would rather see the company fold than betray my principles by accepting the offer. I will now be sending my cheque to ETAG.

  • 166.
  • At 09:32 PM on 26 Apr 2007,
  • Peter Wolstenholme wrote:

It is clear that the concessions can not be costing much: the marginal cost of some extra vehicles must be very low for Eurotunnel, and indeed lower than for the ferries. Yet P&O preserved their scheme, although transferring the rights some years ago to some new 5.5% preference shares, and when they were sold last year the new owner has maintained the cheap travel rights - he probably did not need to - although buying back the preference shares. Both P. & O. and the new owners behaved very well, as compared to Goujon and his fellows.

  • 167.
  • At 06:21 AM on 27 Apr 2007,
  • John Frederics wrote:

Further to my comments in Blog 162, I think Mr Gounon patently cannot be bothered with the travel privileges shareholders. I don’t think it is an operational costs issue (the marginal cost of free travel) or an equality issue, but probably a need to bring GET SA into existence quickly and simply. To a bureaucratic mind offering 1 GET SA share for 1 ET share is simple and quick. Factor in the need to identify legacy travel privilege shares in the changeover and subsequent operations will be costly in time and money. If this is the underlying issue perhaps ETAG could concentrate on how to make the problem for Mr Gounon go away and so help keep our very useful travel privileges.

  • 168.
  • At 09:57 AM on 27 Apr 2007,
  • bryan elvy wrote:

I think M.Ouinon (yes,you may retain your travel concessions or what I really mean is no, you cannot)may be correct in that I,at least, am a little crazy. After all I did purchase 1500 shares because I believed the prospectus. Then,of course I had the misfortune of not understanding the meaning of the word 'guaranteed' in my Equitable Life Guaranteed Annuity Rate pension plan.The investment club I belong to wisely ignore all my share purchase suggestions. I do believe however that joining ETAG is a good idea.And should events not favour us the views,the sea air and the cries of the seagulls on the decks of the ferries will prove therapeutic.

  • 169.
  • At 06:59 PM on 27 Apr 2007,
  • Geoffrey Cuttle wrote:

I am another disgusted Eurotunnel founder, who discovered this blog through ETAG. I too wrote to the Times (happily they chose the excellent ETAG letter instead) but attach my letter below as it may help to explain why we feel so extraordinarily betrayed by M Gounon:

You report Jacques Gounon describing Eurotunnel’s founding shareholders concern over the loss of their travel rights as “crazy”.

As one of those concerned I find this deeply offensive. As I wrote to Gounon last week - without reply at the time of writing - it is not the value of the perk that is so upsetting but the betrayal of nearly a quarter of century of loyalty and unremitting support. We did not invest initially for financial reward, but rather to play our own small part in what promised to be a major world engineering achievement. We did not retain that investment for the travel perk - for most of that time even the diminished value of the shares would have justified selling - but through that same sense of loyalty and support for successive managements striving to sustain financially the already achieved engineering success. Every time I travelled through the tunnel it was not my little perk that gave me pleasure but the sense of pride that, in my own small way, I had contributed to its creation.

I believe that all of us original shareholders must share that emotional commitment, and we find it grotesquely insulting to be addressed as though we were just in it for the money. That modest travel perk was all we had to sustain our loyalty for twenty odd years, and throughout that time it was the only promise that the company was able to honour. Despite Gounon’s statement, there is absolutely nothing in law that prevents that promise being retained in the new structure. And, since those of us left of the group responsible for founding the entire venture are tiny, aging and diminishing the capital cost would be trivial.

It would be an act of irresponsible folly if Jacques Gounon, for the sake of a miniscule concession, were to abandon his only supporters who have unfailing demonstrated their loyalty, and financial lunacy if by so doing he failed to gain the necessary votes on the 15th May.

  • 170.
  • At 12:08 AM on 28 Apr 2007,
  • James G wrote:

As a foundation shareholder (1987/two £2 return journeys a year), I agree this is a most interesting blog.

I bought my shares as I was engaged to be married at the time, and indeed my wife is French. I wanted to support a tremendous engineering project and demonstrate some Entente Cordiale commitment too. Everyone knew it was an investment risk at the time we bought shares. Since then my family has benefitted nicely from cheap crossings (a kind of 'share dividend' so I'm grateful) even though the shares themselves now have little value.

I have followed the present management's efforts to renegotiate debt, cut costs and boost revenue, and have been impressed. But I'm disappointed with the recent change in relation to travel concessions.

So, my Questions are:
a.) legally, are the travel concessions a "Privilege" (as often described, which suggests they can be taken away) or a "Right" under the terms of the various Share issues, in which case do we have a better legal chance of defending them?

b.) If I accept the new offer, I will have shares in a new French company and a not very generous 30% discount on tickets. Other ways of crossing the channel may be cheaper. I will feel sore about the breaking of my travel rights. The new company may fail anyway - but if it doesn't, the value of the shares should climb, surely? Remember, the tunnel concession itself is for another 50 years or more, isn't it? With the debt halved, and current operations profitable, surely sharevalue will improve in the coming years?

c.) If I don't accept the offer and yet 60% of shareholders do, I walk away with nothing. I can't even set the loss against tax.

d.) Isn't it better to accept that the travel rights have been unfairly taken away, but I can still look forward to shares increasing in value over the years? Suppliers, the major creditors, etc, have lost out in agreeing the new company deal, by writing off 50%. Banks invest funds on behalf of their shareholders small and large - they have lost more than me.

It's tough, but why spend more money confronting M. Gounon when British foundation shareholders are a minority? The likely future French president Nicolas Sarkozy has recently (letter of 20 April- ) expressed supprt for current offer.

Eurotunnel's 26 April release ( ) makes very little mention of travel concessions: it's obvious he's not too fussed about the views expressed in this blog!

I might as well accept the new offer. Or am I missing something here?

PS For a flavour of the French side of the debate:

  • 171.
  • At 03:39 PM on 28 Apr 2007,
  • Ivor Lask wrote:

As a founder shareholder I have used my "perk" 4 times a year plus day trips.
It seems to me that any class action will only succeed on a basis of law.
If the offer fails then there will be no-one to have a class action against. For this reason I consider accepting the offer for my 1500 shares and then backing ETAG if the offer succeeds, as I suspect it will. I would welcome any views on my logic, for or against.

  • 172.
  • At 08:36 PM on 29 Apr 2007,
  • Noel Craig. wrote:

As Founder Shareholders we must all remain united and strong. ETAG must be fully supported and given the funds to make their voice heard in court. Letters and appeals to M. Gounon and the Board are, in my opinion, a total waste of time. He knows what the issues are and how shabbily we have been treated, but "fair play" is not a French concept, and he would probably be baffled by our sense of outrage. The only thing he will pay heed to is legal action, and the refusal of us all to approve the new structure of the Company. I have a considerable number of shares in Eurotunnel and I will not support the proposals, even if my shares are lost as a result.Gounon must realise that a point of principle is involved, and we must not allow ourslves to be robbed of our rights.

  • 173.
  • At 01:45 AM on 30 Apr 2007,
  • Brian Terrell wrote:

It has been stated by Mr. Gounon that the cost to the company of retaining travel privileges would be €200,000 per year. Whilst I greatly doubt the veracity of this figure which appears to be based on the concessionary passengers paying full fare, to put this sort of cost in context one can very well equate it to the cost of the salaries of Mr. Gounon and his secretary. In reality of course, the concessionary travel costs very little indeed unless the shuttle happens to be running at 100% capacity or close to it. There are in all probability rare occasions when this can happen in peak periods, but were it a regular occurance I doubt that Eurotunnel would need restructuring.

However, if we accept Mr. Gounon's figure of €200,000 it should also be pointed out that the original terms of the Eurotunnel offer do give Eurotunnel the right, not so far exercised, to charge £10 annual registration fee. If we adjust this figure for inflation it would be equivalent to around £20 in todays money.

A friend of mine a few days ago made the comment "has Mr. Gounon been given a face-saving get-out", perhaps there is a possibility here for negotiation.

Equally, based upon Mr. Gounon's own figures, if the company exercised this right to charge a registration fee, it would produce a revenue to the company of around €240,000 per annum.

In short, one can make a very reasonable case that Mr. Gounon's intransigence will cost the company revenue of €40,000 a year.

Of course, to arrive at some sort of amicable and equitable solution, it does require a more constructive attitude from the Eurotunnel board and its chairman than has been seen so far, but there is still a little time to search for a good solution.

  • 174.
  • At 10:53 AM on 30 Apr 2007,
  • michael p wrote:

Congratulations to Derek Long (post 165) on finally getting a response that gives some hope to those who have decided to ignore this outrageous offer. My reading of the document that was linked to is that whilst we continue to hold a qualifying number of shares in Eurotunnel there would be great difficulties in removing our privileges although I wouldn't put it past M. Gounon to try. I suspect that ETAG will finish up in court fighting a case to prevent a move to extinguish the privileges on some specious pretext (assuming that the 60% take up of the offer is achieved). However I am still puzzled by the lack of £2 returns after December 1st, 2007. Has anyone following this blog managed to book a post December 1 crossing at the normal reduced price as early as this in previous years? Perhaps the fall back plan is that they will whack the post December 1 price up on the grounds that it hasn't changed since opening and is the only way that they can save face and claim to reduce the so called losses that our privileges cause.
For those who have not yet visited the ETAG web site, have accepted the offer and now wish they hadn't, can I highlight something that I saw there which is that if you have already accepted the offer and wish to withdraw that acceptance you can do so, I quote
"If an acceptance has been submitted, it may be withdrawn at any time before 4.30pm on 15th May 2007 – see foot of p32 of the ‘Offer Document’."

  • 175.
  • At 03:40 PM on 30 Apr 2007,
  • Bob Pettitt wrote:

Does anyone know what travel perks employees, Directors, managers etc. of Eurotunnel enjoy at the company's expense and are they being axed? Will they be getting a 30% discount the same as we're being offered? With the number of employees of Eurotunnel this would amount to a large sum if so. Can I take this opportunity to thank ETAG for doing a great job, my cheque will be following shortly.

  • 176.
  • At 11:31 PM on 30 Apr 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

The two postings dated 25 and 26 from (see etag web site) are very interesting to shareholders. The more you think about it, one wonders if Gounons' strategy all along has been (?) :
1. Get rid of all British Directors
2. Sort out a reconstruction and if it works, the companys' debt is reduced to around £2 billion
3. Create a situation (i.e. upset the founding shareholders) that assists the failure of the reconstruction and lays blame elsewhere.
4. Having a full knowledge of the companys' working and value, await liquidation and be ready for the sale.
5. Acquire the train set for around £1 billion (the alleged asset value) with more French backing.
6. Job done - pick up big salary and bonus.
I only hope there is a British entreprenor or consortium waiting in the wings ready to bid against Gounon, if this turns out to be the outcome. I think David on posting 64 is about right when he says 'if the company goes bust - watch out for who collects the pieces.'

  • 177.
  • At 09:07 AM on 01 May 2007,
  • Roger Munday wrote:

The "Eurotunnel on Track" April Newsletter has just dropped through my letterbox. As might be expected, it is wholly given over to cajoling shareholders into accepting the Offer, complete with very detailed answers to what are undoubtedly the many "Frequently Asked Questions" on how to accept the Offer.

What was (perhaps not unexpectedly) highlighted was the issue of Travel Privileges, which is consigned to a tiny 4 lines hidden at the bottom of Page 3 which simply says "These Privileges are described in Para 22.1.4 of the Registration Document and para 4.2.1 of the Securities Note".

Whilst accepting that these references are factually correct, they go no way to answer the questions being constantly posed about the travel rights position of those refusing the offer.(Do read the notes on the ETAG site).

Almost as if ET doesn't want to highlight the issue ! I can't believe that they would deliberately not want to clarify this point - can you ?

Not being a Turkey I shan't be voting for Xmas. I will keep my Founders 1500 shares. But I WILL tender those shares acquired in subsequent rights issues which are not relevant to my Founders Privileges.

  • 178.
  • At 09:37 AM on 01 May 2007,
  • Michael Stainer wrote:

Re blog 168: M Ouioiu might be more appropriate might be more appropriate when you consider how he has showered the British shareholders.

  • 179.
  • At 02:31 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Val Tresidder wrote:

If you look hard you can find the reference to travel privileges at the very bottom of page three in the April 'letter to shareholders'. From there, reference to paragraph 4.2.1 of the 'Securities Note', received a couple of weeks ago, enlightens you to the fact that if you have privileges from the 1987 or 1990 issues, you will no longer be able to benefit from them if you tender your units to the offer. Now we know whether to accept the offer or not. What an arrogant, dishonest underhand management this company has!

  • 180.
  • At 05:13 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • nigel bailey wrote:

As an original shareholder I too feel betrayed. There are so many angry shareholders judging by the views above so I wonder what arrangements can be made to forward these views to Mon Gounon?

  • 181.
  • At 09:18 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Brian Terrell wrote:

In response to Ivor lask's post 171, he is quite right in his comments, but there are I think good arguments why he should consider not tendering his shares, or at least any shares which have travel privileges attached.

If the offer succeeds, then given the contractual background, the chances of a successful class action against Eurotunnel Plc/SA should they try and cancel the travel privileges without due process are quite high.

If the offer does not succeed, and it should be remembered that if there is over 50% acceptance GET SA can exercise their power of waiver to try and gain more shares in the second round. Then it is highly probable that it will be some little time before travel privileges will be lost and if you can get in two or three trips you have little to lose.

Lastly, I would remind shareholders of the comment made by I think Benjamin Franklin originally, to the effect of "either we hang together or assuredly we will hang separately".

Putting aside any financial or other material considerations, there are important questions of ethics and fair play involved here and I believe that these have real value to most of the English even if not to Mr. Gounon. French shareholders are in a majority, but there are sufficient English shareholders that if we are united in refusing the offer first time around whether travel priviliges are involved or not, then Mr. Gounon will be forced to think again.

  • 182.
  • At 10:54 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • K.P.Ardagh wrote:

Brian Terrell's post (no 173) makes complete sense. Surely this must be the answer. Eurotunnel would be no worse off finacially ( in fact would make a small profit out of our privileges before we spend a penny at the Terminals)and we would preserve our privileges in tact and only be paying an annual fee in line with what we anticipated when we subcribed for our shares.

If this can be agreed I will tender my shares.

There is very little time left and I just hope Eurotunnel will accept this as a win-win solution

  • 183.
  • At 11:39 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Michael Stainer wrote:

Re blog 171: Although Ivor Lask is intending to accept the Offer for his 1500 shares even though he thus looses his unlimited £1 travel rights to ensure its success, it should be borne in mind that the 12,000 Foundation Shareholders with travel rights represent a mere half per cent of the total equity so are most unlikely to sway the balance.

  • 184.
  • At 11:46 AM on 03 May 2007,
  • John Dolman wrote:

Reply to James G (Message 170)
If you are a UK tax payer you most likely have more financially to loose by accepting the offer than not accepting it, (ie up to c£2,100 in the case of 1,500 founder shareholders). If you are concerned at potentially missing future dividends, the tax you saved above could then be used to purchase new GET shares and you will undoubted get a far greater dividend than if you just accept the conversation of your present shares. Please refer back to my Message 146.

  • 185.
  • At 03:05 PM on 03 May 2007,
  • Marco wrote:

The best summary of the situation can be found in French News of 2nd May 07 or at the ETAG website under press comments click on French News

  • 186.
  • At 09:25 PM on 03 May 2007,
  • Scarecrow wrote:


M.Gounon is close to securing the tunnel for France, virtually for free. This exchange offer if accepted will leave British shareholders with shares in a French company, Brits holding such shares could find this inconvenient and/or expensive. The reduction in British voting strength will be considerable thus leaving the British with nothing despite 90% of the tunnel customers being Brits.

M.Gounon has played a deceptive game with British shareholders, firstly implying he was looking for British directors but somehow never finding one, secondly saying the travel privileges were safe with him and so giving very little time for action against his breech of contract with founder shareholders.

If the exchange offer is accepted, the tunnel becomes a French company with much less debt so it can be quite profitable for France and you can be sure M.Gounon will reward his French shareholders.

If the exchange offer fails, the tunnel will continue operating but will probably go up for sale to the highest bidder. Surely a British company will realise the great opportunity this represents, a tunnel free of debt could provide excellent value to customers and still make substantial profits.

M.Gounon may have made his biggest mistake when he cancelled the founder shareholder travel privileges because legal action for breech of this contract may be the only way to stop him taking the tunnel for France. He probably calculates that the effected shareholders voting against will not stop the exchange offer. Its up to the founder and British shareholders to save the tunnel for a second time (this time for Britain) by rejecting this exchange tender offer.

The Eurotunnel shares are of so low value there seems little point saving them for yet another vague promise. Anyone that has travel privileges and submits the qualifying shares to the exchange offer, by the terms of the 1987 contract permanently gives up their rights to free travel.

In my opinion all British shareholders should reject this exchange tender offer and support ETAG in its fight with M.Gounon.

  • 187.
  • At 03:45 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Steven Bakovljev wrote:

As a founding shareholder I am inposession of the ordinary shares and the rights to £1 crossings. As I understand it, these are 2 separate assets, not one. Perhaps I should say, one asset which is worthless and one which is of some economic value.

If the Chairman of Eurotunnel is so concerned with equal treatment of shareholders, how come he is a) willing to offer only some of them a 30% discount but not others and b) he is offering some shareholders a straight swap in GET, but demanding of others to surrender their shares AND their travel privilages.

No way Jose!

I shall sooner lose everything than be browbeaten by someone who has not thought things through (for the non-English such as myself, please look up "English understatement" at this point).

  • 188.
  • At 11:04 AM on 05 May 2007,
  • Gerry wrote:

I see that the Eurotunnel website now carries the banner "Site of the new Groupe Eurotunnel"! What cheek! The site is still technically Eurotunnel's property, the closing date of the GET offer is still over a week away, and the outcome is as yet unknown. It is also the only occasion in takeover history that I know of, where the offeror Company has used the offeree Company's facilities to publicise it's pitch!

  • 189.
  • At 02:39 PM on 06 May 2007,
  • Mark Odescalchi wrote:

The latest progress report of 5th May posted on ETAG's web site informs us that Foundation Shareholders will receive a letter from Eurotunnel ( just before 15th May deadline ) which draws attention to 4.2.1 of the prospectus and states that there is no CURRENT intention to "take steps to amend or terminate the schemes or wind up Eurotunnel plc" This,of course, does not prevent Eurotunnel taking such steps any time from next month onwards. As M Gounon appears to belong to the Russian school of corporate governance in his approach to minority shareholders we would be "crazy" to beleive anything else.He has just run out of excuses for justifying stuffing Foundation Shareholders.
Hopefully ETAGs lawyers will make the appropriate response to this last minute flimflam.

  • 190.
  • At 05:11 AM on 07 May 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

If one reads all of the conflicting statements from Gounon and the very recent pleadings that we shareholders should save the company or it will die, it gives the impression that this bloke is flapping about like a drowning man. I can't remember any chairman of such a large company exihibiting such incompetance in such a public way. There have been so many solutions put forward by shareholders and commentators and still Gounon flaps on with time running out. Gounon - we are all trying to throw you a life line. For Christs' sake man, grab hold of it before you disapear beneath the ENGLISH channel.

  • 191.
  • At 08:29 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • John S wrote:

It seems to me to be a no-brainer - my original shareholding is now worth around GBP 500 or, say, four return trips. If I do not accept the offer I can continue to travel for GBP 1 each way so, even if the offer is unsuccessful and an offer with a lower acceptance threshold of 50% is tried and is also unsuccessful and Eurotunnel then goes belly-up, it is going to take some time and I guess I will make three / four return trips in the next three months. The proposed new travel privileges are hardly worth having if you expect to make twelve or fifteen return trips a year so I would rather take what I can get now and risk losing the residual value of the shares and the paltry future travel privileges. If the offer is successful, I will still have my privileges for the time being. I shall not accept the offer.

Brian Terrell's proposal (173) is excellent and I cannot believe many of us would refuse such an initiative - we do need to bear in mind that even if we have lost our shirts on the original investment we should have recognized it was risky (name a major innovative construction project that has come in on budget) but many of us will have had the consolation of doing very well out of "probably the most generous shareholder perk in the history of shareholder perks".

  • 192.
  • At 12:17 AM on 08 May 2007,
  • dora callington wrote:

I have 501 shares. If the tender offer goes ahead I will lose all my travel privilidges which was one half price return trip a year. Had I had 1000 shares at a certain time I would have got 30% discount, better than nothing. Nobody told me that if I acquired these extra shares I would have kept some entitlement. It seems that those holding less than 1000 shares are the majority group and yet no one seems to care about them.

  • 193.
  • At 05:40 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • Keith Atkinson wrote:

Having read the latest shareholder "clarification" from Eurotunnel I wrote back;

Thank you for this. It is clear from it that holders of Travel Privedges
should still not accept the Offer to exchange their existing shares for new
shares in a still heavily indebted company but should retain their holdings
in Eurotunnel PLC.

This cannot be in the best interests of the promoters of the Restructuring.

If the new company would simply agree to honour the existing travel
priviledges all this coul;d be avoided; Foundation shareholders would tender
their shares and potential litigation would be eliminated at minimum cost.

Please ask M gounon to do this and ensure the successs of the Restructuring.

  • 194.
  • At 07:42 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • Nick Prest wrote:

I am a 1987 founder shareholder with 1500 units, so free travel "for life". For various reasons I have only used the privilege twice or possibly three times. But I value it nevertheless as a benefit for the future and as a psychological prop to an otherwise distrous investment. So I endorse the ETAG position entirely and am a member. A point which has not been made, or at least I have not noticed it being made explicitly, in this blog relates to the obligation to treat all shareholders equally. M Gounon has said that this is why only one class of travel privilege can be offered to GET SA shareholders. Whatever the legal validity of this, which appears dubious, there is an opposite and clearer commercial argument, which is that all shareholders in Eurotunnel should be treated equally. Effectively a foundation shareholder with maximum privileges is being offered the same deal as someone who held 1000 units at 15 May 2006. This has the effect of discriminating between different classes of travel privilege holder.

It is clear that Eurotunnel is bust and the shareholders have to accept significant dilution for the business to continue in its current form. But if we regard the travel privileges as part of the share value, which in commercial terms they are, even if this is not the legal position, then conceptually the dilution should be applied to the privileges in a proportionate way. Thus for a founder shareholder with "unlimited free" travel the privilege could be reduced to, for example, 2 trips pa, with proportionate reductions being applied to the other classes of travel privilege. This would be unwlecome but would have a commercial logic in a situation where the equity value has been so much reduced. But to remove the founder privileges altogether whilst leaving intact (for a period) the privileges of the 15 May 2006 holders of 1000 units is not applying the pain equally between shareholders. This goes against the fundamental principle of equal treatment for shareholders, and is a strong reason to resist the proposal in its current form

  • 195.
  • At 11:45 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Eutotunnel's position on this seems quite insane, and it is getting itself into deeper and deeper water.

I fear it will end up in tears after hugely expensive litigation.

I cannot conceive, given the Chairman's latest letter, that any founder shareholder will voluntarily give up valuable travel rights, knowing that by not tendering their shares these will be preserved.

Others have commented that the Board could make a profit simply by charging in today's money the £10 annual fee we all expected to pay at the outset. Why on earth dont they accept this as the solution,and guarantee that the new Company will honour the rights? Instead they have lost immense goodwill and potentially face massive claims.

I am at a complete loss to understand how the Board has allowed this situation to be reached, but even at this late stage the position could be salvaged.

In despair, but hoping that perhaps, just perhaps, someone will take note and act!

  • 196.
  • At 12:30 AM on 09 May 2007,
  • Another David wrote:

Interesting that Gounon's only responses so far have been to confirm that the founder shareholders' options are to ....

1.7 million shares traded in London yesterday -3.85%. 24.7 million shares traded in Paris yesterday at no change in price. Someone is buying - wonder who?

Hope that all this will be scrutinised by interested parties in due course.

  • 197.
  • At 08:40 AM on 09 May 2007,
  • John R wrote:

Currently, I am one of the 2 trips p.a. group.

I am travelling to France this week -the Eurotunnel website has quoted £101 (including 30% discount); I have decided to travel on Seafrance who are charging me £30, no discount.

If the company is liquidated I will be able to claim a CGT loss this year on my tax return which will save me quite a lot on my current year payment to my good friends at the Inland Revenue.

I realise that not everyone will be able to take advantage of tax savings, but as the letter from Eurotunnel I received this morning assured me that I would lose my travel privileges if I accepted the GETSA offer, it seems increasingly likely that I will ignore the exhortation from Mr. Gounon also received this morning to accept the offer, which did rather spoil my breakfast egg.

The man is “barking”, he must be….

  • 198.
  • At 11:37 AM on 09 May 2007,
  • Stephen C wrote:

Things "appear" to be going quite well for the founder shareholders and their travel privileges but we must not be lulled into a false sense of security.

M. Gounon needs to be watched like a hawk and the Action Group needs to be a permanent feature as we may need to challenge any future liquidation of Eurotunnel plc or situations where Eurotunnel is "enabled" to terminate the travel privileges.

It is a shame that things have come to this where we founder shareholders are hostile to M. Gounon whereas if he had acted more correctly and consistently we could all have been on the same side.

  • 199.
  • At 02:49 PM on 09 May 2007,
  • Eric Day wrote:

As a holder of l500 1987 foundation shares in Eurotunnel,unlike most of the above comments I have never been through the tunnel. My main object in 1987 was that this investment (guided by the original prospectus) would become part of my pension funds! However, I do agree with Etag in fighting for the rights to retain the travel privileges, as this was part of the contract when purchasing the shares, therefore, in support of Etag I will not be accepting the offer.
Should the 60% be attained and the Reopening of the offer for additional acceptances (chapter 2.7 in the Offer Document) I would then accept the offer with the hope of at least salvaging something! as I'm not in a position to use the tunnel, so the travel privileges would be no value to myself.

  • 200.
  • At 05:45 PM on 09 May 2007,
  • Nick Prest wrote:

I posted a comment yesterday evening, 8th May.Is there any reason whuy it has not appeared on the blog?

Nick Prest

  • 201.
  • At 09:55 PM on 09 May 2007,
  • Nigel R Thompson wrote:

Although the letter which Eurotunnel are apparently sending to Foundation Shareholders highlighting the fact that if they accept the Offer then their travel privileges will be lost is to be welcomed, it does little more than emphasise what the French authorities made them put in the Offer documents anyway.

The wording of the letter talks about there being no current intention to “take steps to amend or terminate the schemes or wind up Euro Tunnel plc” and then goes on to suggest that, “there can be no guarantee that circumstances will not arise in the future that would enable Euro Tunnel to terminate or amend the schemes . . .” Those two words (my emphasis) clearly suggest that there may be an intention at some time in the future and if the circumstances arise that would enable Euro Tunnel to terminate the schemes, then they are likely to do so.

Against that background and the fact that in future we shall have a French company with French Directors and a huge majority of French shareholders (with twice the voting rights of their British counterparts) it is (a) not difficult to envisage the London listing of the company being discontinued within a few years and (b) the Foundation Shareholders finding themselves then, or at any time in the future, once again fighting this battle - albeit this time through the French Courts.

Consequently, I would strongly advocate that ETAG should remain in existence; that they should retain the fighting funds paid to them by Foundation Shareholders etc to be ready to fund any future action which may be necessary; and that the only sure way of ensuring that our travel rights are preserved is by seeking a declaration from the British Courts whilst they still have some degree jurisdiction in the matter. Naturally, that would be subject to appropriate legal advice confirming the validity of our case, but it seems to me that that simply relying on the assurances of M. Gounon would be unwise to say the least.

  • 202.
  • At 08:10 AM on 10 May 2007,
  • Keith J. wrote:

Mr Gounon's letter would seem to indicate a Pyrrhic victory - of sorts.

If the offer now fails because of the withdrawal of support from the "privileged" shareholders, then the company will shortly collapse and we will all lose the chance of retaining some of our investment for the future, as well as some travel concessions.

If the offer succeeds we will be relieved immediately of the burden of the over-generous terms given to the corporate lenders by Morton and Bernard 20 years ago. Then, when the new company has taken over all the assets and operations of the business, it should not be too dificult to manipulate things so that the "shell" companies of EPA and ESA can be liquidated. This will then relieve us of the burden of the over-generous travel "privileges" also given to shareholders at that time.

Well done!

  • 203.
  • At 09:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
  • David McLaughlin wrote:

We had a dream (having lived and worked in England, France, Germany and Luxembourg) and invested money that we could not afford at the time to ensure that the tunnel would be built. The travel privileges seemed to be a good balance between reward in place of dividends and capital growth and marginal cost in terms of the operator.

I guess that we are like some of the early investors in the railways - guided by the heart rather than the mind. Without that inspiration the tunnel would never have been built and Europe would have been poorer for the consequences.

We never expected to get our money back, but then never expected to be robbed of what is such a small amount for a corporate yet such a bonus for the individual.

Whatever the outcome we will remain proud to have contributed to a great engineering achievement, but shame upon those who seem hell-bent on this dishonourable act of corporate theft.

Plus ca change?

  • 204.
  • At 10:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
  • Asmodeus wrote:

With ref. to Keith J's No 202 - if the Gounon offer fails "because of the withdrawal of support from the "priveleged"(sic) shareholders", then the obvious thing for Mr Gounon to do would be to get us back on his side by retaining the concessions, either as they are, or by increasing the nominal charge to £10 or £20. Then, if Keith's contention is correct, the deal would go through.

  • 205.
  • At 03:49 PM on 11 May 2007,
  • Paul Brewer wrote:

With reference to the latest ETAG advice to ignore the exchange offer in respect of the minimum number of shares required to retain the original travel privileges, but to accept the exchange of any shares held in excess of this minimum: surely until M. Gounon agrees that to exchange this minimum would also guarantee the privileges, it would be better to confound his ambitions and let the offer fail. This could mean that a new operator would offer lower fares than the proposed 30% reduction. Please, someone convince me that the ETAG advice is sound.

  • 206.
  • At 05:16 PM on 11 May 2007,
  • James Hood wrote:

Please find letter just sent to the London times
Dear Sir
I am mystified by the apparent inaction of the various financial and
other regulatory authorities in both UK and France in the face of the
grossly inequitable way various foundation shareholders appear to be
being treated by Eurotunnel / GET SA during their current “offer” for
Eurotunnel SA and PLC “Units”.
Eurotunnel / GET SA have made it impossible for foundation
shareholders to tender their shares for the GET SA offer, since if they
do they will loose the main economic value of their current
shareholding, their right to lifetime, and for the duration of the
concession, travel privileges, a future value that far outweighs the
value of the underlying shares.
The prospectus for the offer, other associated documents, Eurotunnel /
GET SA statements, and subsequent “clarifications” appear to make it
clear that subsequent to any potentially successful take over by GET
SA, either by obtaining 60 % shareholder acceptances, or subsequently
if that is not reached by obtaining 50% acceptances, there will be a
very significant dilution ( to less than 5% from potentially as much
as 50%) of any remaining Eurotunnel SA and PLC unit holder
shareholdings (that Foundation shareholders have been forced to retain
to preserve their travel rights), that substantially all revenue
subsequently accruing to Eurotunnel SA and PLC for tunnel use, will be
utilized to pay interest and principal on the debt that will be put in
place between Eurotunnel SA and PLC, and GET SA, designed , it would
appear, largely to extract this cash flow, and that subsequently as
part of a not very transparent, and currently not clearly articulated
set of reorganization activities, it appears to be Eurotunnel’s / GET
SA’s clear intent to de-list the Eurotunnel SA / PLC units, wind up
Eurotunnel SA and PLC, reorganize the new GET SA structure so as to
“simplify” the structure ( and almost certainly no doubt as part of
this to change the entities “owning” the concessions, and / or their
reporting relationship to GET SA ), and at some point in this process
to also attempt to revoke the travel rights.
Whilst other shareholders may take up the GET SA offer, becoming part
owners through the new structures of the refinanced Company, and
partake in it’s future, foundation shareholders are to be marginalized
and disenfranchised, through a process that is apparently structured to
eliminate any possibility, other than through legal challenge, of the
foundation, and other residual Eurotunnel SA / PLC unit holding
shareholders influencing or otherwise voting on, or challenging such
Yours faithfully
James Hood

  • 207.
  • At 05:53 PM on 12 May 2007,
  • Brian Terrell wrote:

Regarding Paul Brewer's post 205, I can but share his concerns as to ETAG's judgement in this instance. It seems to me that they are not thinking strategically here. The best possible outcome for all parties (except perhaps for Mr. Gounon's morale), is for the offer to go through but with an absolute minimum uptake of GET SA shares. If a sizeable rump of say 35-45% of Eurotunnel Plc/SA shares remain in public hands, moves to delist the shares will be more difficult and such a situation would provide some degree of constraint against excesses of the board of GET SA.

As regards James Hood's post 206, what can one say other than "Hear, hear". The deafening silence of the powers that be, both political and financial is indeed difficult to understand.

  • 208.
  • At 02:47 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Alan Norman Eastwood wrote:

M. Gounon appeared on the "Working Lunch" programme on BBC2 today. He was given a far too easy a ride on the foundation shareholder travel priveleges issue, and allowed to get away with saying Eurotunnel could not afford them, even though the actual cost of providing them must be minimal. The only time these priveleges can have any real economic cost is on those few days that the shuttle is fully booked. A simple amendment barring the use of priveleges on certain summer Saturdays and Bank Holidays could solve that.

  • 209.
  • At 01:29 AM on 16 May 2007,
  • Peter Lamb wrote:

Surely M Gounon contradicted himself on "Working Lunch": he said the travel rights problem applied to 150 out of the 150,000 UK shareholders, but also that the company couldn't afford to continue the foundation travel rights. If it's only 150 shareholders, the effect on the company would be negligible however heavily they use their rights. To have any material effect on the company there must be many many more discontented foundation shareholders. He can't have it both ways. The figure I've heard suggested is that there are around 12,000 UK foundation shareholders and that they are pretty solid in not accepting the offer: does anyone know whether this is accurate?

  • 210.
  • At 10:08 AM on 16 May 2007,
  • Stephen C wrote:

OK, so M. Gounon says that Eurotunnel can't afford the travel priveleges.

How come Eurotunnel could afford them in January 2007 when M. Gounon sent out his famous letter?

What's changed?

  • 211.
  • At 12:24 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • marco wrote:

I have just listened to a recording of the BBC 2 "Working Lunch" tuesday interview of Jacques Gounon. Why am I not surprised to see he is at it again? Having mislead shareholders on 3 occasions up to January 07 he suggested that only 150 shareholders in the UK are affected by this and that the company can't afford to pay their "perks" Both statements are not true of course.
Sadly the interviewer had not done his homework so didn't really understand or pick up on the issue.

  • 212.
  • At 08:04 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Bryan wrote:

To be fair to Jacques Gounon, he referred only to the number of shareholders contributing to the BBC Blog (not the total number). Also, to his credit, he did the interview in English (which is adequate and probably better than most of us can speak French - but still not perfect) and I suspect that he might well have said certain things differently in his native (French) language.
However, that does not alter my opinion of him and that his decision to alienate those of us who are founder members by taking away the travel rights to be wrong, unjust and naive! No, I will not be accepting the offer!!

  • 213.
  • At 11:03 AM on 18 May 2007,
  • marco wrote:

I suppose one positive came out of the Gounon "Working Lunch" interview.
When asked about privileges he no longer claimed there could be no more than one perk because of a) Takeover Panel b) AMF c) Paris Commercial Court but that the Company could not afford them In this respect he has admitted the Company has been misleading shareholders since January.

  • 214.
  • At 07:09 PM on 18 May 2007,
  • rui.nuvo wrote:

To the Author,

Is this your private blog which I guess you have a right to censor. Had I known it was your personal blog then I would almost certainly not have taken the trouble to contribute to it.

Or have the BBC requested you to censor the blog on their behalf. Are some contributor views too hot to handle by the BBC.

  • 215.
  • At 01:20 PM on 19 May 2007,
  • Nigel Thompson wrote:

Having just read the "end of term report" from ETAG,(18th May) now would seem to be an appropriate time to thank the members of the Steering Committee for all their hard work over the last two months in particular, in helping to secure the continuing travel rights (not "privileges" - we paid for them as part of the original subcription for our shares) of the Foundation Shareholders.

Without their efforts and expertise, I am quite sure the outcome would have been very different following the deplorable behaviour of M. Gounon and his colleagues.

We still have to await the outcopme of the Offer of course, but providing the necessary acceptance figure is achieved, I would very much hope that ETAG will continue and will monitor the situation for when the next attack comes - as it surely will.

  • 216.
  • At 10:21 PM on 21 May 2007,
  • Michael Stainer wrote:

ETAG - - is satisfied that the Foundation Shareholders' travel rights have been upheld for the time being (which was only right and proper), although disappointed that the regulatory authorities chose not to regard the qualifying shares as a separate class.

Consequently ETAG will be closely monitoring developments, and will take whatever action is deemed appropiate to safeguard the position in the future.

  • 217.
  • At 12:23 PM on 01 Jun 2007,
  • robert wrote:

OK so some of us have held onto our old Eurotunnel shares.
Has anyone got any sort of analysis as to where we stand now ?
As far as I can make out we will be dumped into some sort of subsidiary company with no dividends and presumably with untradeable shares. The following paragraph taken from Eurotunnel website on 29th May which refers to old Eurotunnel shares:-
It is therefore likely that, upon completion of the reorganisation, the market for the Units will no longer comply with the demands of liquidity necessary for the Eurolist by Euronext market or for the Official list of the United Kingdom Listing Authority. The units could therefore, in accordance with regulations applicable in the country concerned, be removed from trading.
Removed from trading ? I suppose means from open market trading. But will they have any sort of value? Obviously if priveleges are finally removed for good then the old shares will need to be sold but how? and to whom and for how much?
I guess the answer to this is for nothing as they will be worthless ?
Willbe interested to hear if anyone has some thoughts on these matters.

  • 218.
  • At 11:40 AM on 02 Jun 2007,
  • Alan Norman Eastwood wrote:

Eurotunnel have now issued a clear threat to wind up the two original parent companies. It is in their press release of 31st May, and reads as follows.
"In the near future GET SA also intends to consider any other transaction to simplify the Eurotunnel group structure, and particularly asset contributions or statutory mergers which could result in the winding up of ESA and EPLC."
I think this sums up their attitude to the mainly British founder shareholders. Gounon and the other French directors simply want to get rid of us and our travel preiveleges without paying any compensation, and unless ETAG can get the courts to protect our position they will succeed.

  • 219.
  • At 11:12 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Isabelle Kay wrote:

I have just received the notice of Eurotunnel's Extraordinary General Meeting of 27 July 2007. There are resolutions to change the names of Eurotunnel plc and Eurotunnel SA to TNU plc and TNU SA respectively.
With reference to our travel rights, what does this move portend?

It seems that ETAG have now won. We are informed that the perk lives on with those of us who stood firm. Well done to all those who put up such a good fight.

  • 221.
  • At 07:34 PM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • John Arthur wrote:

Don't count your chickens! The "official" word is that the travel privileges/rights have been ratified for another year - you cannot believe all that you read in the papers!

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