Portugal sells cargo rail firm to MSC, scraps smaller sale

Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:28am EDT
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LISBON, July 23 (Reuters) - MSC Rail, a unit of global shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company, won the privatisation tender for the cargo division of Portugal's railway firm CP with an offer of 53 million euros ($58.14 million), the government said on Thursday.

Most of that will be used to capitalise the indebted CP Carga, and the winner will also lease locomotives and railway cars to CP, State Secretary for Transport, Sergio Monteiro, said.

Also vying for CP Carga were Portuguese holding company Cofihold and private equity firms Springwater Capital of Switzerland and locally-based Atena Equity Partners.

The government also decided to cancel the sale of state-owned railway equipment maintenance firm EMEF due to a probe of possible state aid to EMEF launched by European authorities after a complaint by its competitor.

The government had received one binding bid for EMEF from France's Alstom. Local media said Canada's Bombardier had complained to Brussels about state aid to its competitor EMEF. Monteiro would not name the plaintiff, but said the complaint was a serious threat to EMEF's future.

In the past few years, Portugal has implemented a programme of state property sell-offs agreed with its European and IMF creditors under the 2011-2014 bailout. Most privatisations have been successfully completed, far exceeding Lisbon's revenue target. ($1 = 0.9116 euros) (Reporting By Andrei Khalip, editing by William Hardy)