FRENCH National Railways (SNCF) and DWS have completed the sale of European locomotive leasing company Akiem to Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).

The sale follows the finalisation of the customary consultation procedures with employee representatives from SNCF and Akiem and confirmation of regulatory approval, in particular from the French competition authority.

Headquartered in France with eight European offices, Akiem reported revenue of nearly €220m and Ebitda of around €150m in 2021. It has a fleet of more than 600 locomotives 46 passenger trains, and around 250 employees.

Akiem was created as a subsidiary of SNCF in 2008 to take over management of 280 surplus electric and diesel locomotives from the Fret SNCF fleet. The sale of 50% of the company 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.

The shareholders of Akiem agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with CDPQ for the sale of the company in August.

“Akiem’s size and positioning across the entire value chain, including maintenance, give it 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 decarbonising transport - a solution that appealed to us from the start.”

“The sale of our stake in Akiem is fully in line with SNCF Group’s strategy to become a world leader in sustainable mobility for passengers and goods,” says SNCF Group deputy CEO, financial strategy, Mr Laurent Trevisani. “It will participate in the financing of our rail activities and of our two strategic assets, Keolis and Geodis, which are growth drivers of the group. It will also contribute €8m to the reduction of the group’s debt through the proceeds of the sale.”

Akiem ordered 65 Vectron AC and Vectron MS locomotives from Siemens Mobility in August, after signing a framework agreement in December 2021 when the company ordered an initial 20 Vectron locomotives.