Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eurotunnel Announces Rail Freight Success but RoRo Ferry Losses as it Retains Carbon Trust Status

Tax Credit Boosts 2013 Financials as Passenger Numbers Rise and Pollution Falls
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – UK – Much happening at Groupe Eurotunnel this week after the cross channel link announced its annual financial results for 2013 with profits tripling to €101 million, aided by a €81 deferred tax asset and increased passenger numbers, but also whilst managing to carry 1.4 million freight trucks throughout the year. The controversial RoRo MyFerryLink service operated after the demise of SeaFrance showed an operating loss however of €22 million. Meanwhile the groups Carbon Trust Certification has been retained after the success of three main projects.

Firstly the figures, healthy revenues of €1,092 billion showed a 12% increase with an EBITDA of €449 million led to the proposal of a €0.15 dividend for shareholders (up €0.03 from 2012). The Eurotunnel Group’s pre-tax profit for 2013 was €20 million, down €7 million on last year, but boosted to €101 million by that net tax credit, resulting mainly from the initial recognition of a deferred tax asset, of €81 million. The cost of servicing debt was up €4 million against 2012 to €269 million.

The renewal of subsidiary GB Railfreight’s five year contract with Network Rail for transport of maintenance materials, plus the contract for the transport of more than a million tonnes of spoil for the Crossrail project which will open in 2018, boosted the rail freight outlook along with the success of other Europorte activities which added 16% to the previous year’s revenue figures for the sector.

Controversy still surrounds the future of MyFerryLink which Eurotunnel feels still has a place in the cross channel market. A decision from the Competition Commission is expected in May 2014 whether to allow the service to continue in the face of strong opposition from other ferry operators. The operator carried 326,000 trucks in 2013 and around 316,000 cars boosting revenues for the full year to €74 million, basically from a standing start but still recorded a €22 million loss. The history of this dispute can be accessed via the News Search facility, just type in MyFerryLink.

In other tunnel news Groupe Eurotunnel retained its Carbon Trust Certification by the independent British organisation Carbon Trust for its policy and achievements in carbon footprint reduction for the period 2011 to 2012. This certification comprises the Channel Tunnel and all its railway subsidiaries (GB Railfreight, Europorte France, Europorte Proximite, Eurotunnel Channel, Europorte Services, Socorail). Within 3 months, all 15 Passenger Shuttles will display the Carbon Trust logo.

Eurotunnel maintains no other cross channel operator has carried out a carbon footprint assessment to date. To achieve accreditation Eurotunnel says it had to meet extensive criteria and reduce its carbon footprint by 3%. It achieved this in three ways: by reducing train speeds at night; reducing the amount of energy used to cool the tunnel and transferring the contract for the supply of electricity to low carbon sources based in France.

Michel Boudoussier, Groupe Eurotunnel Chief Operating Officer – Concession, said that more customers were now making purchasing decisions based on a company’s impact on the environment and he felt the tunnel's ongoing commitment to sustainable development would always result in more traffic. Tom Delay, Carbon Trust Chief Executive Officer added:

“Eurotunnel has achieved consistent environmental improvements for a number of years and has retained the Carbon Trust Standard since 2009, certifying that it has reduced its carbon footprint year-on-year. Eurotunnel’s commitment to sustainability helps to reduce the impact of its passengers and freight customers when they are crossing the Channel."