However, the planned sale may still be delayed or disrupted by concerns over competition as the combined GFR/CFR Marfă would control more than 70% of the Romanian railfreight market.

The Romanian government has already notified European Union (EU) competition authorities of the situation and the Romanian National Competition Council is expected to decide soon whether it will approval the transaction.

It is possible that the EU will choose to investigate the sale, even if it is approved without conditions in Romania. GFR has operations in many neighbouring countries and operates a fleet of nearly 300 locos and 14,000 wagons.

The Romanian government announced the planned sale of a 51% stake in CFR Marfă in April. Before offering the company for sale the government restructured CFR Marfă's debt by transferring €28m to Romanian State Railways Holding (CFR SA) in order to make the freight business more attractive to investors.

A minimum price of €180m was set for the 51% share but is unclear if GFR has offered anything close to the asking price. Some reports suggest the amount could be around €200m, although the final sum will depend upon detailed contractual negotiations.

After a first round of bidding in early May three bidders entered the auction process: US shortline operator Omnitrax, and Romania's two largest independent railfreight GFR and Transferoviar Grup, which bid as part of a consortium with financial investors Donau Finanz.

Subsequent bidding rounds saw Omnitrax excluded by the Romanian Transport Ministry; a decision the company is now challenging in the courts.

On June 19, Transferoviar Grup/Donau Finanz announced it was withdrawing from the sale process claiming it had been given insufficient time to review and analyse information on the company, which according to local media reports had only been made available to bidders on May 27. This left GFR as the sole remaining bidder and on 20 June the government announced its bid was successful.

The announcement of a successful bidder for CFR Marfă in June this year was one of several conditions imposed on the Romanian government by the International Monetary Fund in return for maintaining financial support to the country.