GERMANY: UK-listed infrastructure investment group International Public Partnerships Ltd is to acquire joint venture partner Hamburger Hochbahn AG’s 51% stake in German rail and bus operator BeNEX GmbH.

The signing of the purchase agreement was announced on April 1, and financial close is expected before the end of June 2019.

INPP has agreed to invest up to €54m, of which part will be subscribed immediately as additional capital and used primarily to reduce debt which was linked to a requirement for Hochbahn to be a continuing shareholder. The remainder will be used to acquire Hochbahn’s 51% stake, with payment over the period to 2026 funded by a return of capital from BeNEX over the same period.

Hamburg’s municipally owned metro and bus operator Hochbahn established BeNEX in 2007 to manage its activities outside the city. These include German train operators Agilis, Cantus, ODEG, Metronom and Nordbahn, as well as bus services.

Hochbahn expects to finalise a new directly-awarded contract for the operation of services within Hamburg later this year, and said it was divesting its stake in BeNEX to comply with EU requirements that an organisation operating under a direct award contract should not directly or indirectly engage in competition elsewhere.

INPP said BeNEX had been a successful investment, with a ‘strong and successful management team’, concession agreements typically providing an indexed revenue and the majority of concessions not putting the ridership or revenue risk on the operator.

BeNEX now has 12 train operating concessions, and as of December 31 it had 86 trainsets on lease to seven train operators, six of which it fully or partly owns.