BELGIUM: As part of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet, freight operator Lineas has reached a sale and leaseback agreement covering a portion of its rolling stock fleet.

The agreement announced on November 19 covers the sale to Beacon Rail and long-term lease of 109 Class 77 diesel locomotives in 2021-23, and a similar arrangement with Ermewa covering approximately 4 000 wagons in 2021.

‘This sale-and-leaseback transaction is an important step towards our transformation into an asset-light company, keeping long term access to these strategic assets, whilst at the same time increasing the flexibility to up and down scale in a continuously evolving market environment’, explained Chief Financial Officer Jan De Raeymaeker. ‘The deal allows us to further strengthen our financial buffers and repay the entirety of our outstanding bank debts. The released capital will also be used to accelerate our transformation and European growth strategy.’

‘With Beacon Rail and Ermewa, Lineas is gaining strong partners with the necessary expertise to help build a future-proof fleet at a European level’, added Chief Operating Officer Kurt Coffyn. ‘The transaction will allow us to join forces in the development of new technologies such as Digital Automatic Coupling and ETCS. These innovations are essential in making our rail offering even greener and more efficient, and thereby driving modal shift and contributing to Europe’s sustainability goals.’

‘Beacon is delighted to have entered into this long-term partnership’, said the lessor’s Chief Commercial Officer Rob Dee. ‘We look forward to supporting Lineas in their drive for continued modal shift across the European rail network through enhancements to these assets and future growth opportunities.’

‘We are honoured and proud to have been selected by Lineas for this sale and leaseback transaction, allowing Lineas to invest the freed-up capital in growth and business transformation projects. We are delighted to start working with Lineas on new wagon concepts, innovation and new technologies’, added Ermewa President David Zindo.

Following the transactions, Lineas will continue to deploy the assets in its day-to-day operations and will remain the entity in charge of maintenance. The operator was advised by Apex Rail and Allen & Overy.