BOUYGUES is to purchase the 21% stake in Alstom which has been owned by the French state since July 2004 under the government’s rescue agreement (RG 6.04 p369). The stake will be acquired at a price of €68·21 per share, representing an investment of €2bn, to be funded from available cash and without a capital increase.

Civil engineering company Bouygues said it will become a shareholder ’for the long term’ and has given an undertaking to keep the Alstom shares for at least three years. It does not plan to cross the threshold of one third of Alstom’s capital or voting rights, and so it will not make a tender offer for the remaining shares.

The transaction is subject to approval by the European Commission, and the expected disposal of Alstom’s Marine activities.

On April 26 Alstom and Bouygues signed a non-exclusive agreement for commercial and operational co-operation, aiming to strengthen their positions in bids for turnkey contracts.

Announcing its annual results on May 17, Alstom said it had ’met its stated targets’ for the 2005-05 financial year. Operating margin was 5·6%, with positive free cash flow of €525m and a net profit of €178m, up from a loss of €628m the previous year.

Margin on the group’s Transport activities grew from 4% in 2004-05 to 6·3% in 2005-06, with Alstom attributing this to ’a strict selectivity in order intake, to higher volumes and to cost reductions and improved project execution.’

Order intake across all Alstom’s activities was up by 8% on a comparable basis to €15·3bn, taking the total order backlog to €27bn, up 9% on the year to March 2005. There was a sharp rise in orders in the power sector, while in transport ’the level of orders remained generally stable at a high level.’

Chairman & CEO Patrick Kron said ’Alstom is now entering a new phase driven by profitable growth, which the co-operation with Bouygues will further enhance. In this context, Alstom’s operating margin should reach 7% for fiscal year 2007-08, this being at the top end of the target range previously announced’. n

Track business renamed in sale

Pfleiderer Infrastrukturtechnik GmbH was renamed RAIL.ONE with effect from April 13, following the sale of Pfleiderer’s track systems business to AXA Private Equity.

Announced on March 14, the acquisition by AXA is subject to approval by the German anti-trust authority, which had expressed concerns last year about a previous plan to sell the business to Vossloh AG.

The business has annual sales of almost €150m, and produces sleepers and ballastless track components at seven plants in Germany, Hungary, Romania and Spain.

Dr Helmut Pitsch of AXA Private Equity said ’we are very pleased to have the opportunity of acquiring such a successful company and support an experienced management team in its strategy to expand internally or through acquisition in promising markets.’

Deloitte & Touche provided financial advice on the deal, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom legal advice, with financing by Dresdner Bank AG and Linklaters as financing legal advisor.

Growth brings move to Movares

MOVARES became the new name for Holland Railconsult on May 1, reflecting the engineering consultancy’s continued expansion outside the Netherlands and beyond the rail market.

Holland Rail Consult Holding reported a consolidated income of €140·8m for 2005, up from €134·4m in 2004. Net operating profit was up from €3·0m to €7·1m, and pre-tax profit on ordinary activities from €3·2m to €6·2m.

Movares describes its expansion policy as ’controlled internationalisation’, operating in France, Germany, Portugal, Slovakia and Poland, where it is the fourth largest rail infrastructure consultancy and sees opportunities in EU-supported rail projects.

Executive Chairman Wim Jol said the economic climate is becoming more favourable. but ’despite the good prospects that are emerging’, 2006 is not expected to be as good a year for Movares as 2005, once work has been completed on the HSL-Zuid and Betuwe Route ’mega-projects’ which account for a large percentage of the company’s turnover.

Alcatel sells to Thales

THALES is to acquire the Transport Systems activities of Alcatel, along with the satellite and critical systems businesses, in a deal worth €673m.

Alcatel will have a 21·6% stake in Thales, with the French state the largest shareholder with 27·1%. The deal is related to the merger of Alcatel and US company Lucent Technologies, for which agreement was announced on April 2.

Hansen buys Spear

HANSEN Information Technologies announced the acquisition of Spear Technologies on April 20, forming a Transit & Rail business unit within the company.

San Francisco-based Spear produces asset management software for the transport sector, and its 10 largest US customers manage more than 17000 rail vehicles and buses. Golden Gate Capital provided acquisition financing for the acquisition, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Goat maker shifts

RAILPOWER Technologies is relocating its head office from British Colombia to Québec, where it will be based at Brossard on Montréal’s south shore.

A total of 52 hybrid locos were under construction at Railpower’s subcontractors as of March 31, and the company had firm orders for 162 hybrid locomotives, up from 80 at the end of the first quarter of 2005. Design work has been completed for the planned RP series of locos, and assembly of two demonstrator units is expected to be completed by the end of June.

Electrical expertise

SPITZKE Spoorbouw took over the rail activities of GTI Infra BV on April 1, saying the safety engineering, electrification and power supply divisions will complement its track expertise.

Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail is increasingly tendering complete projects, and the takeover will allow Spitzke to offer all disciplines in-house.

Scandinavian expansion

STRUKTON Railinfra has strengthened its position in Scandinavia through the acquisition of a 65% stake in Norwegian company Jernebaneservice AS, and has an option on the remaining 35%.

Oslo-based Jernebaneservice AS is one of four rail construction and maintenance companies in Norway, and has an annual turnover of €8m.

The acquisition forms part of the Utrecht-based Strukton group’s strategy of expansion in Scandinavia, where the company is aiming to become a significant provider of infrastructure services to the rail sector. In 2003 it acquired a majority holding the Swedish company Svensk Banproduktion, which will now intensify co-operation with Jernebaneservice with the aim of expanding the group’s capacity in Norway.