Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2009 (Revised March 2010)

Groupe Eurotunnel S.A. (A)

by Stuart C. Gilson, Vincent Marie Dessain and Sarah Abbott

Abstract

In the summer of 2006, the chairman and CEO of Eurotunnel Group is faced with the decision whether to file for bankruptcy protection, after having failed to gain creditor approval of an ambitious out-of-court restructuring plan. The company, which has been attempting to restructure its debt and operations for the last ten years, faces a number of daunting challenges. Eurotunnel is jointly listed in the U.K. and France, and its shareholders, who are largely based in France, face the prospect of significant dilution under any restructuring plan. The current chairman and CEO has been with the company for only a year and a half, following a decade of senior management turbulence in which the company has seen nine different CEOs and chairmen. Eurotunnel's capital structure is staggeringly complex, and a large fraction of its debt has come to be held by U.S.-based hedge funds that specialize in investing in distressed companies. Finally, Eurotunnel's business is extremely challenging to value and is faced with significant competition. If the current chairman/CEO decides to file for bankruptcy, he faces the additional choice of whether to file for bankruptcy in the U.K. or in France, which take quite different approaches to restructuring troubled companies.

Keywords: Restructuring; Capital Structure; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Laws and Statutes; Risk Management; Rail Industry; France; United Kingdom;

Citation:

Gilson, Stuart C., Vincent Marie Dessain, and Sarah Abbott. "Groupe Eurotunnel S.A. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 209-062, March 2009. (Revised March 2010.)