In a statement, the government confirmed that it will hold further negotiations on the sale of CP Carga with Atena Equity Partners, Portugal; Cofihold, Portugal; and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Rail (Portugal). Alstom and Bavaria industries Group, Germany will enter the final round of negotiations for the sale of EMEF.

After years of losses, CP Carga and EMEF reported net profits in 2014 of €5.3m and €909,000 respectively.

The privatisation of CP Carga was originally due to take place at the beginning of 2012, but has been deferred four times. In March this year the government approved a revised plan for the privatisation of the two businesses, requiring the winning bidders to retain capital in the companies for a minimum of three years.

In both cases, the government will favour bidders offering an international strategy "aimed at penetrating other markets across Europe."

The sale of CP Carga and EMEF is a condition of Portugal's bailout by the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.