AS PLANNED at the time of its June 1998 flotation, Alstom has become independent, with the sale of most of the residual stakes held by former owners Marconi and Alcatel. The two groups succeeded in placing the majority of their 24% stakes in Alstom with institutional and private investors. After an offering last month that was five times oversubscribed, the shares rose initially from the selling price of 26·25 euros on February 8 to 28·5 euros by February 13.

Marconi and Alcatel will now concentrate on their telecoms operations, including Alcatel’s cable manufacturing business which has been renamed Nexans. Both groups will retain small stakes in Alstom, which plans to increase the size of its eight-member board and appoint non-European members.

Alstom has reached agreement in principle to take over the management and operation of Canadian Pacific Railway’s Ogden workshops in Calgary. Alstom will acquire the inventory and equipment, and lease the buildings.

The 64ha site is CPR’s largest locomotive and freight wagon repair and maintenance facility. The maintenance-of-way section, where track machines are repaired, is excluded from the deal, which should be finalised by early April. The 50 supervisory staff will transfer to Alstom, but the 540 unionised workers will remain CPR employees.

In South Africa, Alstom has expressed interest in the potential sale of Spoornet’s service and maintenance arm Transwerk, and is in negotiations with possible Black Economic Empowerment partners. Alstom is rehabilitating commuter EMUs for Metrorail, and sees opportunities in the signalling market.

Wagons-Lits sells maintenance arm

Accor subsidiary Compagnie des Wagons-Lits has sold its rolling stock maintenance business to a partnership formed of its own management and American private investment fund Colony Capital. The move is part of a strategy to refocus Wagons-Lits on its core activity of providing on-board train services for European rail operators. The rolling stock design, maintenance and renovation business, with a 31m euro turnover, employs 425 people and operates in six countries.

Industry News in Brief

Canada: CIT Group Inc has opened an office in Calgary as part of a programme to expand its leasing operations.

Germany: Rolling stock refurbishment specialist PFA of Weiden has started bankruptcy proceedings. A receiver has been appointed, and negotiations are in hand with banks and customers about outstanding contracts. These include refurbishment of former German Railway coaches for Netherlands Railways.

DB’s Research & Technology Division has signed an agreement with Patentes Talgo of Spain to collaborate on the development of passenger and freight rolling stock. This may lead to the construction of a prototype articulated train for DB Reise & Touristik.

International: Transport consultant Seneca Group has formed Seneca International Ltd as a British subsidiary. The company will manage projects in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Siemens has acquired the remaining 5% of French-based Matra Transport International, following its purchase of a 95% stake in the company on October 1 1998 (RG 6.99 p400).

Romania: Trinity Industries has invested US$8m in the Meva Drobeta Turnu Severin wagon factory, which it bought in 1999. It will spend a further US$3m this year to double turnover. Trinity is also investing US$5m in Arad-based Astra Vagoane. Company President Douglas Schneider said the firm was seeking ways to re-conquer the former Soviet market.

Electroputere is negotiating with Adtranz to assist with local assembly of Movia EMUs being supplied to Bucuresti metro. Under the US$110m deal signed in 1999, the 18 six-car units must be assembled in Romania, with 30% local components.

USA: Pittsburgh light rail operator Port Authority Transit has awarded a $4m contract to Spear Technologies for Spear 2000 materials management software, to assist with vehicle maintenance.