MEETING on August 10, the board of Hungarian State Railways agreed to shortlist seven bidders for the second round of tenders in the privatisation of MÁV Cargo, rather than the five originally anticipated. Final offers are due on October 19.

Launched on May 29, the first round which closed on July 23 attracted 12 bids which were opened on August 1. According to a MÁV spokesman, the board agreed that the additional bidders could go through because the offers were 'very close'. Only one first-round bid is reported to have met the HF80bn envisaged by the government.

The shortlisted bidders are Cargo Central Europe, backed by Rail World Inc, Romanian open-access operator Grampet, Magyar Rail Cargo, the MC Solution consortium including wagon-builder IRS, Amsterdam-based New World Resources Transportation, a consortium of Rail Cargo Austria with the Györ - Sopron - Ebenfürth Railway, and Spedi-Trans of the Czech Republic. Early favourite Railion failed to make the cut, with a reported low bid of HF44bn.

MÁV Cargo carried 47 million tonnes of freight in 2006, reporting a profit of HF2·8bn on turnover of HF93bn.