posted on 18th May 2021 09:57
On 18 May 2021, Eurostar announced that it has reached a refinancing agreement with its shareholders and banks. The refinancing package of 250 million GBP mainly consists of additional equity and loans from a syndicate of banks guaranteed by the shareholders: SNCF and Eurostar’s majority shareholder, Patina Rail LLP, a vehicle backed by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and funds managed by the Infrastructure team of Federated Hermes, and SNCB, the Belgian state train operator.
The refinancing package comprises 50 million GBP shareholder equity, 150 million GBP shareholder guaranteed loans and 50 million GBP restructured existing loan facilities. A syndicate of banks includes Export Development Canada, Barclays, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Société Générale, Natwest and BNP Paribas
Jacques Damas, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said: “Everyone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks which will allow us to continue to provide this important service for passengers. The refinancing agreement is the key factor enabling us to increase our services as the situation with the pandemic starts to improve. Eurostar will continue to work closely with governments to move towards a safe easing of travel restrictions and streamlining of border processes to allow passengers to travel safely and seamlessly. Their co-ordinated actions and decisions are crucial to the restoring of demand and the financial recovery of our business.”
Over the last year, this international business dedicated to routes connecting the UK with the continent, has experienced a more severe decline in demand resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic than any other European train operator or competitor airline. With this package of support, Eurostar will be able to continue to operate this vital link and meet its financial obligations in the short to mid-term.
Going forward, the focus will be on restoring demand for travel on Eurostar’s core routes between London and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, and on maintaining rigorous cost control to ensure the repayment of loans. Eurostar will increase the number of trains on its London - Paris route to two daily return services from 27 May, and three per day from the end of June with a view to gradually increasing the frequency over the summer period as travel restrictions are eased.
Eurostar remains committed to its role in reducing the impact of climate change, particularly in light of the COP 26 summit taking place in the UK in November this year, and the growing appetite of passengers for high-speed rail travel. This refinancing package secures Eurostar's future as restrictions ease and travel begins to gradually resume.
With the refinancing in place, Eurostar will have the opportunity to recover and successfully complete its merger with Thalys, as part of the Green Speed project. In 2019 the shareholders of Eurostar announced the launch of the Green Speed project and their ambition to bring together Eurostar and Thalys, the French-Belgian high speed rail operator, to create one unified European high speed rail company.
Eurostar is owned by three shareholders: SNCF (55 %), Patina Rail LLP, a consortium comprising CDPQ and funds managed by the Infrastructure team of Federated Hermes (40 %), and SNCB (5 %). Eurostar is currently running one daily return service between London and Paris, and one daily return service between London and Brussels/Amsterdam.