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SNCF acquires stake in Swiss rail company

BERNE, Switzerland: February 19, 2017. Swiss railway company BLS Group, owned by the Canton of Berne and the Swiss Confederation, is selling 45 percent of its BLS Cargo subsidiary to SNCF Logistics, part of France's SNCF rail group.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The minority shareholding gives SNCF Logistics greater access to Western Europe's North/South freight rail corridor where its subsidiaries Captrain Germany and Captrain Italia are already significant operators between the two countries.

BLS Cargo 1"We have found just the right partner in the SNCF Group," said Bernard Guillelmon, BLS Cargo chairman "This means that we can shape the freight business internationally to make it more sustainable and forward-looking."

SNCF Logistics and BLS Cargo said they would increase their collaboration, particularly on cross-border transport: "BLS Cargo is an extremely attractive and well-positioned company," explaned Sylvie Charles, general manager of Railfreight and Intermodal Business Unit for SNCF Logistics. "We believe that the North/South corridor has great potential," she added.

BLS Group said it did not anticipate any changes to the management, staff, head office location, assets and corporate structure of BLS Cargo as a result of the new shareholding.

Company revenue rose last year from CHF 170.4 million to CHF190.6 million resulting in an unchanged EBIT of CHF2.1 million, and a rise in net profit from CHF0.3 million to CHF1.5 million year-on-year.

BLS Cargo claims it is one of the few European rail freight operators "to have enjoyed lasting financial success over the years".

SNCF Logistics already operates 10 multimodal North/South trains a day from Aiton, Chambéry in northern France to Orbassano near Turin, Italy; and between Bettembourg, Luxembourg and Le Boulou in South West France, 12 kms. from the Spanish border.

According to SNCF operator VIIA, The "rail motorway" between Bettembourg and Le Boulou averaged 91 percent capacity in 2016 and carried 1.5 billion tonnes of freight - equal to moving 67 million truck kilometres from road to rail.

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