FRENCH National Railways (SNCF) is reportedly exploring the possibility of selling its train leasing business Akiem following the recent successful sale of its wagon leasing business Ermewa for €3.2bn.

According to a report published in French economic magazine Les Echos, SNCF has engaged Rothschild & Co to explore the sale of Akiem, in which SNCF holds 50%. The other shareholder is German company DWS, formerly Deutsche Asset Management.

SNCF is still heavily in debt and sources suggest that TGV services will lose €6bn in 2021 due to traffic restrictions caused by Covid. SNCF president, Mr Jean-Pierre Farandou, told IRJ that first-class travel, which usually provides much of TGV's profits, is still down 40% on pre-COVID levels although leisure travel has recovered well.

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 half of Akiem to DWS took place in 2016 and in 2017 Akiem acquired MGW Service, a German locomotive maintenance company. In 2020 Akiem took over the fleet of around 200 locomotives from Macquarie European Rail. Akiem currently owns around 750 locomotives and passenger trains, mainly operating in France and Germany.

SNCF confirmed the sale of Ermewa to a consortium of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and DWS at the end of October.