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swissexpressBRUSSELS: European private equity firm Argos Soditic has taken a majority stake in SNCB Logistics, a subsidiary of Belgium's railway company SNCB and operator of block trains for conventional and intermodal loads throughout Europe.

The deal adds €70 million to the company's capital base - €20 million from Argos Soditic and €50 million from external financing. SNCB will also convert a €25 million loan into additional capital. Last year SNCB Logistics produced an EBITDA of €11 million on a turnover of €452 million.

SNCB chief executive Jo Cornu said: "I am happy that after 15 months of continuous effort, a solution has been found to strengthen the structure of SNCB Logistics. Argos is the strong partner that SNCB Logistics needs to continue its development in collaboration with its historical shareholder."

SNCB Logistics owns a fleet of 200 locomotives and 7,000 wagons and says the Argos investment will enable it to invest in the launch of new products such as the recently introduced Swiss Xpress service between Belgium and Switzerland.

Argos Soditic typically take majority stakes ranging from €10m to €60m in companies with revenues of €20m to €400m. Since its creation in 1989 the firm says it has developed a track record of "unusual, complex and off-market transactions".

Commenting on its latest deal president Gilles Mougenot declared: "Argos is delighted to support SNCB Logistics and to help it develop into a strong and independent player within the Belgian and European rail freight markets. The company has an experienced management team which has developed a clear and effective strategy that we will continue to pursue."

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