GB Railfreight, the UK’s third largest rail freight operator, has received an irrevocable offer to buy the company from Swedish private equity group EQT Infrastructure on behalf of subsidiary Hector Rail, a provider of rail traction services throughout Scandinavia and Germany.
Terms are not disclosed and are subject to consultation with labour representatives from GB Railfreight owner Groupe Eurotunnel. If the offer is accepted, EQT says it will integrate GB Railfreight into Hector Rail as part of a goal to develop a pan-European rail network.
Founded in 1999 by the current CEO John Smith, GB Railfreight operates over 1,000 trainloads a week on behalf of Drax, Network Rail, EDF Energy, MSC UK, Aggregate Industries and Tarmac with a fleet of 130 locomotives and 1,100 wagons.
“We are 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 will be of valuable support to GB Railfreight in our continued growth ambitions,” said Smith.
The acquisition coincides with the announcement by Deutsche Bahn (DB) Rail of a substantial contraction in its UK operation that includes nearly 900 redundancies, a further downsizing of its locomotive and wagon fleet, and a revision of the number and locations of its operational sites.