BYLINE: Merger vote postponed

Westinghouse Air Brake Co of the USA announced on August 20 that it had decided to postpone a meeting scheduled for August 23, called for shareholders to vote on the company’s proposed merger with MotivePower Industries (RG 7.99 p465). According to WABCO, the meeting was postponed due to ’market volatility’ in its shares and those of MPI, as well as ’shareholder reaction’.

The company also intended to give its shareholders more time to ’evaluate information’, after it and MPI had announced on August 18 that they expected earnings per diluted share in 1999 to be between $0·05 and $0·10 below the level of $1·43 forecast when the merger was first announced on June 3. This reflected the ’delayed timing of certain contracts’, including the delivery by MPI of 50 shunting locomotives for General Motors EMD. On August 18 this was not expected to contribute significantly to revenues and earnings ’until late this year and the first half of 2000’.

Shareholders in MPI met as scheduled on August 23 and voted ’overwhelmingly’ in favour of the merger, according to Chairman John Pope. He hoped that WABCO would hold its meeting ’as promptly as practical, as WABCO is contractually obligated to do’. In the meantime, MPI would ’conduct business as usual with the current management team in place’.

Drain brains

Ganymede Manpower Services and Nor Ex Hire (Rail) Ltd of Great Britain have formed Railway Drainage Ltd. Using seven Mecalac road/rail excavators and trailers which can carry up to 15 tonnes of ballast, gravel or spoil on rail, the company can replace drains alongside and underneath one track without closing the adjacent line to traffic. n

Industry News

Australia: On August 30 ERG Group announced a record profit of A$20·3m for the year to June 30 1999, up 47% from A$13·8m the year before. Revenue was up 11% at A$269m.

Great Britain: Announcing on September 7 Charter plc’s interim results for the six months to June 30 1999, Chief Executive Nigel Smith said that negotiations for the sale of its specialised engineering businesses including Pandrol Rail Fastenings (RG 4.99 p246) were being progressed ’on an exclusive basis with a potential buyer’. Turnover was down by 26·7% within the track equipment sector, with the sale of Pandrol Jackson to Harsco Corp still awaiting US government approval.

Poland: Adtranz Poland and H Cegielski are amongst suppliers which have recently formed the Polish Railway Chamber, headquartered in Bydgoszcz. As well as lobbying government, the association aims to keep its members abreast of changes resulting from the privatisation of PKP, promoting products and services as local authorities take over responsibility for rural lines (RG 7.99 p449).

USA: UniRail has launched UniRailNet (, an Internet-based service enabling operators in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and ultimately other Latin American countries to purchase products from suppliers in North America. Design of the website, including administration and transaction-processing systems as well as a 2500 page product database, has been undertaken by CTNY.