THIS MONTH is expected to see the announcement of the preferred bidder to take over ZSSK Cargo.

Privatisation of the Slovakian freight operator began last year after train operator ZSSK was split into separate freight and passenger business units (RG 5.05 p241). The government hopes to raise at least KS15bn from the outright sale, having rejected proposals that the state should retain a controlling interest in the business.

Eight consortia were prequalified last year, of which six were shortlisted to submit final tenders. The closing date of January 4 was subsequently extended to January 30 at the request of two bidders. The six bidders are: Rail Cargo Austria with local firm J&T; Railion of Germany; PKP Cargo of Poland; US-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc; the Cargo Central Europe joint venture of Rail World Holdings LLC, Mid-Europe Partners and Penta; and Cargo Co-operation Consortium, which groups Hungary’s MÁV with Bratislava-based Slavia Capital Group.