GFR agreed in June to pay €202m for the shares, which would give the combined GFR/CFR Marfă control of more than 70% of the Romanian railfreight market.

GFR said on October 3 it had already paid €30m to the government, covering the €10m bank guarantee and €20.2m to guarantee the transaction, and that it had "diligently fulfilled of the requirements of the privatisation process, following the steps required to date." In a separate statement issued yesterday however, GFR said that some of CFR Marfă's creditor banks did not approve of changes in the company's shareholder structure, and that Romania's Competition Council did not have sufficient time to fully review the sale.

At a press conference in Bucharest in October 14, transport minister Mrs Ramona Manescu said: "We had a deadline and no money was paid. We consider that this sale has failed." However both GFR and Manescu say that the buyer has the funds to complete the transaction.

Mr Guia Stoica, CEO of GFR's parent company Grampet Group, blamed the privatisation authority for delaying the sale, but stresses his commitment to acquiring the state-owned operator. "If CFR Marfă is put up for privatisation 100 times, I will submit an offer 100 times," he says.

This is the second time in six months the government has halted the sale of CFR Marfă. In May offers from all three bidders were rejected and the process was restarted under revised terms.