BELGIUM: Pan-European private equity house Argos Soditic has taken a 66% stake in SNCB Logistics, the freight division of the national railway, as part of a financial restructuring of the operator.

The agreement adds €70m to the capital of SNCB Logistics, of which €20m has been contributed by Argos Soditic and the remainder from external sources. In addition, SNCB has converted into cash a €25m subordinated loan which it had previously agreed to provide to its freight arm. SNCB remains a minority shareholder in SNCB Logistics and expects to work in partnership with Argos Soditic to develop ‘new products and services’ and ‘place clients and their needs at the centre of developments’.

After several years of heavy losses, SNCB Logistics posted EBITDA earnings of €11m in its full-year 2014 results, which Gilles Mougenot, Partner at Argos Soditic, says is a testament to the strength of the SNCB Logistics management team led by Geert Pauwels.

‘SNCB Logistics’ strong link with the Belgian ports (Antwerpen, Zeebrugge and Gent) can prove to be a strong catalyst for its future growth’, Mougenot told Railway Gazette’s sister title DVZ. ‘All the conditions are there for us to invest. We see a lot of potential for SNCB Logistics to become a game changer in the Belgian and European rail freight market.’