EUROPE: Wagon leasing firm VTG has announced acquisitions in the 1520 region and Italy, with CEO Dr Heiko Fischer saying the Hamburg-based group is 'pursuing a path as market consolidator', making purchases as opportunities to strengthen its business arise.

With effect from June 1 VTG has acquired Railcraft, which has offices at Finland, Russia and Estonia and rents out 560 owned and 310 leased oil tank wagons to customers in the CIS and Baltic States.

The takeover 'opens up an operations gateway into the CIS and Baltic markets', said Fischer. 'This transaction affords us the opportunity to enter the world's second-largest railway market with a high-quality fleet, an experienced team, and an established customer base on a clear basis and under limited risk conditions'.

In April VTG purchased Italian competitor Sogerent, which is being integrated into VTG's Milano business. The deal covers around 300 oil, chemical and compressed gas wagons leased to customers in Italy, Switzerland and eastern Europe.

VTG's orders for new wagons rose from 300 in the last quarter of 2010 to nearly 1 000 in the first quarter of this year. Primarily for oil, chemicals and gas, they are being built by VTG's own plant Graaff and by other European providers.