THE shareholders of French rolling stock leasing company Akiem have agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) for the sale of the company. Akiem is currently owned 50:50 by French National Railways (SNCF) and German company DWS, formerly Deutsche Asset Management.

Headquartered in France with seven international offices, Akiem provides local expertise to more than 80 customers in 21 countries. Akiem had revenue of nearly €220m in 2021, with Ebitda of around €150m, and has around 250 employees.

CDPQ’s offer is subject to the usual consultation with employee representative bodies within SNCF and Akiem, and the transaction is also subject to the approval from competition authorities.

Akiem was created as a subsidiary of SNCF in 2008 to take over management of 280 surplus electric and diesel freight locomotives from the Fret SNCF fleet. The sale of a 50% stake in Akiem to DWS took place in 2016 and in 2017 Akiem acquired MGW Service, a German locomotive maintenance company. In 2020 Akiem took over a fleet of around 200 locomotives from Macquarie European Rail. Akiem currently owns around 750 locomotives and 46 passenger multiple-units, mainly operating in France and Germany.

“Akiem’s size and positioning across the entire value chain, including maintenance, give [Akiem] a significant competitive edge to benefit from the expected growth in the locomotive leasing market across Europe,” says CDPQ executive vice president and head of infrastructure, Mr Emmanuel Jaclot. “With three quarters of its fleet already operating on electricity, Akiem offers a sustainable response to the challenges of decarbonizing transport - a solution that appealed to us from the start.”

“This plan to sell Akiem is fully in line with SNCF Group’s strategy to become a global leader in sustainable mobility for people and freight, with the rail industry as a core business and two strategic assets: Geodis and Keolis,” says SNCF deputy CEO, financial strategy, Mr Laurent Trevisani. “Once the definitive agreements are concluded, this transaction will provide financing for our core activities and the group’s future growth while accelerating debt reduction. It also provides Akiem with the backing of a long-term partner and ensures the continued operations of this company, which will remain a business partner of SNCF.”

“Since becoming a shareholder of Akiem in 2016, DWS has supported the management’s strategic growth ambitions through its active asset management approach combined with the rail expertise of its partner, SNCF,” says DWS head of infrastructure, Mr Hamish Mackenzie. “Akiem’s success during our investment reflects the quality of its management team and their unrivalled track record in the European locomotive leasing market, as well as the quality of our long-term partnership with SNCF.”

“This acquisition is a new step following a very successful collaboration between Akiem and its shareholders, SNCF and DWS,” says Akiem CEO, Mr Fabien Rochefort. “We are delighted with CDPQ’s commitment, which will allow Akiem to continue investing in support of its long-term growth in the European locomotive and passenger train leasing markets. As rail operators face rising demand for more environmentally friendly transportation in a complex environment, Akiem is providing its customers with rolling stock that is sustainable, solid and reliable. We intend to continue innovating and developing our operational and industrial expertise to benefit our customers.”