A source said: “Everything has been turned upside down and we have basically become political football.”
The following weeks were a scramble to convince lenders to back a second bailout. Shareholders knew they would have to do “the heavy lifting”. In April, an agreement in principle was reached and officially announced last week.
The owners of Eurostar injected £ 50m and £ 200m of debt has been restructured. The total amount injected by shareholders since the start of the pandemic is £ 415million.
“From a purely business point of view, you probably wouldn’t [the deal], if it was all about money, ”says a source.
The events left a bitter taste in the mouths of Eurostar and its shareholders. Although Eurostar took advantage of the government’s time off program, it was unable to access any of the government’s other Covid support projects. Insiders repeatedly compare this to the billions in loans and guarantees given to Rolls-Royce, British Airways and easyJet.
A source points out that it was not only French taxpayers who had to pay to save Eurostar. Hermes invested on behalf of UK council pension schemes; The CDPQ does this on behalf of Canadians.
Eurostar will start to scale up its services on May 27. But fears remain that another wave of the virus, coupled with restrictions, could bring Damascus, its board of directors and shareholders to square one.
“Things are not over,” says a high-level source. “We are far from being out of the woods. “If it stays like this for another 12 months, we will go back.”