ROMANIA: After years of speculation, proposals and counter-proposals, Minister of Transport Ludovic Orban confirmed on March 16 that state-owned rail freight operator CFR Marfa is to be privatised.

Established as a stand-alone business during Romania's railway reform programme of 1998-99 (RG 3.07 p155), CFR Marfa was always intended to be floated in the longer term. Financial adviser Deloitte and local legal firm Bostina & Associates had reportedly proposed different approaches, and suggestions have been circulating for some time that CFR Marfa shares would be floated on the Bucuresti Stock Exchange later this year. But Orban said the ministry has now decided to sell the business outright through an open tender.

No doubt the ministry has been watching developments across the region. CD Cargo is up for sale in the Czech Republic, although the sale of ZS Cargo was cancelled after a change of government in neighbouring Slovakia. Hungary's MÁV Cargo was sold outright to ÖBB subsidiary Rail Cargo Austria at the end of last year, but we understand that the competition authorities in both Hungary and Austria have now launched separate enquiries into alleged irregularities in the sale process. This has not deterred ÖBB from looking at other potential acquisitions; last month Bulgaria's Standard reported that ÖBB and DB had expressed interest in buying BDZ subsidiary Freight Services Ltd.