NTS intends to use the proceeds of the sale, estimated at about $US 500m, to expand its rolling stock fleet by purchasing wagons from other operators, entering into leasing deals, or through the acquisition of other railfreight operators should the opportunity arise.

NTS was set up in 2006 by four entrepreneurs and is now Russia's second largest private operator by transport volume and third largest by fleet size. It owns 57,332 wagons comprising gondolas and tank wagons, plus 43 locomotives, and specialises in the transport of iron and manganese ore, coal, oil and oil products. NTS acquired EvrazTrans, the railfreight division of steel producer Evraz, in December.

In the nine months to September 2012, NTS increased its revenue by 23% to Roubles 33.7bn ($US 1.1bn) and its Ebita by 53% to Roubles 13.5bn.