INTRO: The debate about privatising Deutsche Bahn AG will reach a climax in the next few weeks. In the run-up to a decision on a stock market listing, Chris Jackson sought the views of Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn
Jackson: Herr Mehdorn, why do you want to float Deutsche Bahn AG on the stock market?
Mehdorn: Deutsche Bahn constantly needs capital. Trains, tracks and facilities have to be maintained and modernised. DB AG ceased to be a state authority 12 years ago, and it has to grow in the same way as any other company. In the future the federal government will no longer be available as a provider of capital to the necessary extent. For that reason, it should sell a part of DB AG so that we can obtain fresh capital from the market to implement the growth opportunities of the future.
Jackson: In which areas are you aiming for further growth?
Mehdorn: We want to grow both in our traditional markets in Germany and to attract more customers to rail. But we also want to continue our involvement in European urban, regional and long-distance transport and to use the opportunities of European liberalisation as we are already doing with Railion in freight transport. In logistics, we have to be in a position to offer our customers worldwide services in order to remain competitive.
Jackson: What can Deutsche Bahn customers expect from the stock market flotation?
Mehdorn: They will benefit from our being able to continue Deutsche Bahn’s modernisation course with new capital. Customers will get better service and travel even more punctually, in cleaner surroundings and more safely. In logistics, our customers will get a worldwide unique range of services from a single source. The more we can invest, the more tightly-knit our logistics network will become.
Jackson: What does your schedule for the stock market flotation look like?
Mehdorn: That is a decision to be taken by our owner - the federal government - in the coming few weeks. The fact is that the present offers a very favourable time window. The Deutsche Bahn management and staff have prepared the ground for a stock market flotation in the past few years. We will be fit for the stock market at the end of this year. Now it’s up to the politicians to decide.