VTG is acquiring AAE in exchange for VTG shares, a cash component, and a vendor loan note. Mr Andreas Goer, the owner of AAE, will receive 7.4 million new shares and therefore becomes a 26% shareholder in VTG. The vendor loan note is worth €230m and the cash component €15m.

AAE operates in 24 European countries and generated turnover of more than €200m in 2013 with Ebitda of €150m. The company's debts stood at €890m at the end of last year.

VTG says AAE's fleet consists largely of intermodal wagons and therefore closes a key gap in its product portfolio. The average age of the AAE fleet is 15 years, compared with 23 years for VTG.

"Acquiring AAE represents a major strategic step forward for our company," says Dr Heiko Fischer, CEO of VTG. "The merger of two innovation leaders will lead to the establishment of the only single-source provider of all essential wagon segments for railfreight throughout Europe. This will open us up to new customer groups and allow us to continue to address the market segment with the strongest growth potential."

Subject to clearance by antitrust authorities, the transaction is due to be finalised in the first half of next year.