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Latest update : 2009-03-04

Eurotunnel announced on Wednesday it will pay its first dividend since the company was created in 1986. A four euro cents per share dividend was announced after the Channel tunnel operator reported a 2008 net profit of 40 million euros.

AFP - Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel said on Wednesday that it will pay its first-ever dividend after making a net profit of 40 million euros in 2008 despite fire damage of 200 million euros (249 million dollars).

The dividend, of four euro cents per share, will be the first since the company was created in 1986 and since trains began running beneath the channel between France and England in 1994.

Chief executive Jacques Gounon said that 2008 clearly marked the end of financial uncertainty for the business, despite a fire in the tunnel in September which cut capacity by half for a while.

The group's insurers paid 44 million euros, after deduction of a claim penalty, on account of lost business. The group put the total cost of the fire at 200 million euros.

The company, which has come close to bankruptcy and has restructured its debt several times, has 500,000 shareholders. The total dividend will amount to 7.6 million euros, equivalent to about 1% of the value of the company on the stock market.

Truck traffic had continued to fall, down by 46 percent at the beginning of this year following the fire, but passenger traffic had held steady, the company said.

The company began to recover in 2007, reporting a profit for the first time, of one million euros, after years of financial crises.

Date created : 2009-03-04