May 10, 2012

Syntus in financial trouble?

Written by  Quintus Vosman
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DUTCH regional bus and train operator Syntus is reportedly in financial difficulty and could run out of funds by next month unless its two shareholders, Netherlands Railways (NS) and Keolis, step in.

Syntus is currently losing around Euros 5m per year, and critics have suggested the company bid too low for some of the contracts it operates, particularly bus services in the Veluwe area.

In February shareholders asked CEO Mr Frank de Leeuw to stand down and Mr Cees Anker, formerly of First Group, was appointed as his successor, albeit on an interim basis. However, Anker has initiated a recovery plan for the company.

In 2010, Syntus lost the concession for the Arnhem – Winterswijk, Zutphen – Winterswijk, and Arnhem – Tiel regional lines in eastern Gelderland province to Arriva following a Europe-wide tender. The contract runs for 10 years from December 9, with an option for a five-year extension.

Syntus was one of the first companies to tender for regional train services in the Netherlands when the market was liberalised in the 1990s. The name Syntus is a contraction of "Synergie tussen trein en bus" (synergy between train and bus).

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