Friday, September 30, 2011

Privatisation of Rail Freight and Multimodal Logistics Operations Continues

Bidder Drops Out of One Auction but More on the Table for Another
Shipping News Feature

RUSSIA – Investors interested in the logistics market are looking carefully at the news coming out of Moscow recently. In April the Russian Government announced it was to sell 12% of its joint stock company*, Russian Railways (RZD), operators of the longest rail, network in the country. RZD was due to dispose of several assets this year possibly now to include up to half of the shares in its London listed, intermodal cargo operation, TransContainer. This news follows this weeks announcement that one of the favoured bidders, Globaltrans Investment, were withdrawing from the forthcoming auction for a 75% stake (less two shares)in RZD’s rail freight carrier, Freight One citing ‘current uncertainty in global financial markets’.

In the case of TransContainer it appears that enquiries by ministers led them to the conclusion that the planned sale of a minority stockholding was unattractive to potential investors. RZD currently hold a majority of shares in the company but sale of a controlling interest is likely to prove much more acceptable to any takers. Obviously the proposed deadline for a September sale has now passed and next year appears to be a more likely time.

Transcontainer were valued at around $1.3 billion this week and the sale is due to the Government’s plans to reduce public ownership across the board, believing as it does that private investment will produce the revenue required to improve infrastructure, particularly given the potential and importance of an efficient freight rail and intermodal cargo network.

For their part Globaltrans saw their share price rise upon the news of their withdrawal from the Freight One auction. Other prospective bidders are Universal Cargo Logistics Holding B.V. (UCL), stevedoring partners with RZD across the country, Trans Oil, which runs a complex distribution network across the country for its international products and two sister companies Neftetransservice, which recently purchased equipment from RZD and has made no secret of the fact it would like control of Freight One, plus the Skovorodino Industrial Transport Enterprise.

All bidders mentioned have been approved and are due to compete in the auction which is scheduled for the 28th October.

* Открытое Aкционерное Oбщество Open Joint Stock Company