SNCF might sell Akiem to Canadian investor

SNCF is negotiating the sale of its freight locomotive leasing company Akiem with the Canadian investment fund Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ). The railway company jointly owns the subsidiary (50:50) with German infrastructure asset manager DWS.

The value of the proposed transaction has not been disclosed, but earlier this year French media reports speculated that Akiem could fetch around 2.5 billion euros.

75% of fleet electric-powered

According to France’s state railways, Akiem is a European leader in locomotive leasing and maintenance. It posted revenues of nearly 220 million euros and an EBITDA of around 150 million euros in 2021. Akiem operates a fleet of over 600 locomotives, 46 passenger trains and employs some 250 staff.

Headquartered in France and with seven international offices, the company provides local expertise to over 80 customers in 21 countries. The company has the largest fleet on the continent, of which 75 per cent is electric, a share that is expected to increase in the coming years, SNCF added.

‘Competitive edge’

CDPQ’s offer is subject to the customary consultation with employee representative bodies within the SNCF Group and Akiem. In addition, the transaction is subject to the approval of certain competition authorities.

Emmanuel Jaclot, Executive Vice President and Head of Infrastructure at CDPQ, commented: “Akiem’s size and positioning across the entire value chain, including maintenance, give it a significant competitive edge to benefit from the expected growth in the locomotive leasing market across Europe.

“With three quarters of its fleet already operating on electricity, Akiem offers a sustainable response to the challenges of decarbonizing transport – a solution that appealed to us from the start.”

Acquisition of Ermewa

In October last year, CDPQ, in association with DWS, acquired SNCF’s rail wagon leasing company Ermewa. The 3.2 billion euros deal was largely responsible for taking SNCF out of the red for the first time in many years.

Laurent Trevisani, Deputy CEO Financial Strategy, SNCF Group, explained that the plan to sell Akiem was fully in line with SNCF Group’s strategy to become a global leader in sustainable mobility for people and merchandise, with the rail industry as a core business and two strategic assets: Geodis and Keolis.

“Once the definitive agreements are concluded, this transaction will provide financing for our core activities and the Group’s future growth while accelerating debt reduction. It also provides Akiem with the backing of a long-term partner and ensures the continued operations of this company, which will remain a business partner of SNCF. We would like to thank the Akiem teams for their involvement over the past few years and will continue to support them in the various stages of this project.”

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Author: Stuart Todd

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