Swedish company buys GB Railfreight
Hector Rail, Sweden’s largest private rail freight operator, is to acquire the GB Railfreight (GBRf) from Eurotunnel subsidiary, Europorte, for an undisclosed sum.
Hector Rail, a traction specialist providing locomotives and staff in Scandinavia and Germany, is owned by private equity group EQT Infrastructure II (also known as EQT). EQT has made a “binding and irrevocable offer” for the company, though acquisition is subject to consultation from Eurotunnel’s staff representative bodies.
GBRf is the UK’s third largest freight operator with a 15% market share. The company fleet comprises over 130 locomotives and 1,100 wagons, and the workforce numbers 650.
GBRf was founded in 1999 by the current CEO John Smith. It was acquired by FirstGroup in 2003 and subsequently sold to Europorte in 2010 for £25m.
Eurotunnel says its ownership improved profitability and that GBRf’s IRR (internal rate of return) was over 28% between 2010 and 2016.
The acquisition is part of EQT’s strategy to create a major but independent pan-European rail freight operator.
“We would be very pleased with EQT as our new owner and strongly believe that EQT’s industrial approach and network, extensive rail freight experience and access to capital would be of valuable support to GB Railfreight in our continued growth ambitions,”said CEO and company founder John Smith.
Eurotunnel’s French rail operations are currently managed by Europorte and are unaffected by the sale.