GERMANY: Rail4chem is to be sold to Veolia Cargo, the shareholders of the Essen-based private freight operator announced on February 20. Subject to regulatory approval, the transaction will be completed in the first half of 2008. The parties have agreed not to disclose the price.

Rail4chem will be merged with Veolia Cargo's existing rail freight business, which employs 1 000 people and generated revenue of €122m from hauling 37 million tonnes of freight in 2007. Veolia said the acquisition will double the size of its activities in Germany, and bring new opportunities in Poland and Switzerland. It will also create opportunities for Veolia in the chemical, food and beverage sectors, and strengthen its intermodal presence.

Rail4chem was set up in 2000 under the joint ownership of German firms BASF, Hoyer GmbH Internationale Fachspedition and VTG, and Swiss company Bertschi. Through its subsidiaries Rail4chem Benelux, Rail4chem Transalpin in Basel and Fer Polska the group has operating licences for Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland.

As part of the European Bulls partnership it also provides transport services to Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia. Rail4chem employs 180 people, and had a turnover of more than €80m in 2007.