Russian First Vice-Premier Anton Siluanov has signed a governmental directive authorising Russian Railways (RZD) to sell its stake (50% plus 2 shares) in the country’s largest rail container operator
Under the document, the stake shall be sold at an auction to a domestic Russian investor. The auction is scheduled for late June or early July. The resulting deal is expected to close in late August or early September.
According to he directive’s qualifying requirements, the potential bidders shall be Russian citizens, and cannot be affiliated with Russian federal and local authorities if the latter hold a ≥ 30% stake, or are controlled by marine terminal container handlers, or have had losses in 2018.
As far as offshore companies are concerned, the green light would be given only to those with known Russian beneficiaries, while 50:50 joint ventures with foreign beneficiaries, including container shipping lines or container terminal operators, would not be allowed to participate.
“We would like TransContainer to remain a Russian player, with a Russian investor," said Russian vice-prime minister Maksim Akimov. "In addition, we would like to avoid conflicts with marine container terminal operators. That is why there are certain restrictions. However, we reckon that dozens of Russian companies will be able to take part in the auction and it won’t be restrictive in this sense.”
In Akimov’s opinion, the document is designed to attract the broadest possible pool of bidders.
Sergey Karatayev, director general of UCL Holding-controlled First One, Russia’s largest privately held rail operator, has declared his firm’s willingness to take part in the tender, possibly in partnership with Mediterranean Shipping Company, MSC).
Other players in the domestic transport sector, such as Delo group, CMA CGM-controlled Logoper and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, in cooperation with DP World), have also voiced their interest in the would-be sale.
RDIF’s participation would, however, be questionable, given its practice of borrowing from overseas lenders and funds, when entering domestic entities.
As of today, apart from RZD, TC’s other major shareholders are Russia’s state-held VTB bank (24.8%) and Enisey Capital (YC), owned by Chelsea FC’s owner Roman Abramovich and his business partner Aleksandr Abramov (24.5%).