EUROPE: Polish freight operator PKP Cargo announced on September 2 that it had signed a preliminary agreement for the potential acquisition of Advanced World Transport, the Czech Republic’s largest open access rail freight operator. AWT has an 8% share of the Czech market and also operates in Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

PKP Cargo will undertake due diligence and has exclusive negotiation rights for 10 weeks. Any deal would be financed from PKP Cargo’s own resources, and possibly an additional debt issue. PKP Cargo said it is also considering further acquisitions.

AWT was founded in 1994 as OKD Doprava. In addition to its freight operations it has 400 km of lines in the Ostrava-Karviná and Kladno coalfields and provides rail services at 60 industrial sidings. The main commodities handled are coal and coke, along with chemical, steel, forest products, limestone, automotive and container traffic. The company also modernises and leases wagons.

AWT owns 167 locomotives, including Siemens ES64U4 Class 183 multi-voltage electrics, and leases locomotives from MRCE, PKP Cargo and ZSSK Cargo. It has 5 500 wagons, mainly coal hoppers, flats and tank, which are also offered for lease. It has 2 500 staff, and carried 12 million tonnes of freight in 2013, generating €282m in sales revenues.