Operail sells more assets, ‘nothing to do with Russian business’

Image: Wikimedia Commons. Tibukonn

After selling its Finnish subsidiary to Nurminen Logistics, Estonian state-owned freight operator Operail proceeded to more asset releases. The company sold 807 wagons that previously belonged to its wagon leasing subsidiary, Operail Leasing. The sale brought 22,1 million euros into the company’s coffers, while the beneficiaries were the Kazakh ATASU Group which bought 410 wagons and the Estonian Skinest Rail, which bought 397 wagons.

This was the second sale cycle for Operail Leasing’s assets. Previously, the company sold a batch of 522 wagons located in Ukraine to the Ukrainian company Fortior Capital and the Estonian company Teslar Trans. Those wagons brought revenues of 6,51 million euros to Operail, considering the lower prices applied for Ukrainian companies.

No ‘Russian business’

“Since freight transport is strategically important for the country, it was necessary to find ways to remain economically afloat. We were looking for alternative income until we optimised and reformed freight transport in Estonia. The media has assumed that wagon rental is the ‘Russian business’ of Operail. This is not true. The business was started for the opposite reason – to reduce dependence on the transport of transit goods from Russia,” commented Operail’s chairman of the board, Raul Toomsalu.

The Estonian company claims that its wagon leasing business served primarily 1,520mm markets both domestically and internationally. However, “wagons have never been rented to Russian companies or Russia”. Even now, the company reassures that most of the sold wagons are located in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia and the Baltic countries.

In any case, it must be noted that Operail’s will to sell its assets did not result from the war in Ukraine or the need to hastily cut off ties with Russian businesses. Just like the sale of Operail Finland by Nurminen Logistics, the sale of Operail Leasing’s assets has been in the pipeline since the spring of 2021 in an attempt by the state-owned company to “exit from non-strategic business lines”.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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