THE ARGENTINIAN government was expected to launch officially on June 22 the bidding process for a 79% stake in metre gauge freight operator Belgrano Cargas (RG 5.04 p257). Outline tender documentation was to be made available on June 28, followed by more detailed information on July 18. Bids are to be submitted in August, with the winning bidder to be announced on September 3.

Belgrano Cargas is currently operated by Unión Ferroviaria, and the trade union will retain a 20% stake in the company with the federal government holding the remaining 1%. Investment required over the first five years of the new regime has been estimated at 1bn pesos, and the government is also hoping to see the restoration of passenger services in northwest Argentina followed by other sections of the Belgrano network.

Government sources have indicated that three consortia have already expressed an interest in bidding, including a grouping of shippers Deheza, Bunge, Arcor and ACA with broad gauge freight concessionaire Nuevo Central Argentino. América Latina Logíistica has joined Cargill, Monsanto and Vicentin while Genesee & Wyoming is reported to be bidding with investment banks and a North American logistics company.