BLS Cargo sells 45% stake to SNCF Logistics
Swiss operator BLS Cargo’s launch of several new European freight services follows confirmation it has sold 45 per cent of its shares to French carrier SNCF Logistics, which is seeking to strengthen its own rail freight activities in northern and southern Europe.
Both say the deal with ‘intensify their collaboration’ in cross-border transport operations, with each firm mutually benefiting from the partnership.
BLS will remain the majority shareholder with 52 per cent, with the The Ambrogio Group also retaining its three per cent holding. The deal is still to be formally ratified by the competition authorities.
Since the start of the year BLS has been commissioning Socar mineral oil trains from Trecate (Italy) via Chiasso or Domo to various tank storage facilities in Switzerland. The new service operates up to nine times a week.
Its CargoBeamer is a completely new transport concept, which has been up and running since the start of January. A connection to The Netherlands via Kaldenkirchen was launched to explore new market potential. Six round trips are offered each week. BLS has also been a running since the middle of February from Frenkendorf to Domat/EMS twice a week for logistics specialist Kuehne+Nagel.
Sylvie Charles, General Manager of SNCF’s Railfreight and Intermodal Business Unit, said: “BLS Cargo is an extremely attractive and well-positioned company. We believe that the north/south corridor has great potential. The close collaboration between BLS Cargo and our Captrain companies will enable us to create international services optimally geared for customers on the north/south corridor.
SNCF Logistics, with its subsidiares Captrain Germany and Captrain Italia, is the second largest freight operator in the Germany and Italian rail markets, but until now it has been less active in Switzerland and along the north/south freight transport corridor.
Bernard Guilelmon, Chairman of the Board of BLS Cargo, said: “The good position of BLS Cargo, in particular international combined transport, perfectly complements the business activities of SNCF – we have found just the right partner. This means that we can shape the freight business internationally to make it more sustainable and forward-looking.”
The existing company structures, including its location in Berne and the existing management will remain unchanged, as will the important services of BLS in the areas of engine drivers, locomotives and workshops used by BLS Cargo.