August 30, 2019 / 11:21 AM / 3 months ago

Logistics firms buy 35% stake in Swiss Railways cargo unit

ZURICH, Aug 30 (Reuters) - A group of logistics services companies has bought a 35% stake in the Swiss Federal Railways cargo unit, SBB Cargo AG, in an effort to move more goods to trains from roads and return the government-controlled freight business to a profit.

Planzer Holding AG unit Swiss Combi AG, Camion Transport AG, Bertschi AG and Galliker Holding AG bought the stake, the railway said on Friday. That leaves government-owned federal railway company SBB with a 65% holding.

No purchase price was disclosed and the transaction must be cleared by competition regulators, with a decision due early next year.

SBB Cargo calls itself Switzerland's biggest goods transport company and handles nearly 30 million tonnes of freight a year.

It has trimmed jobs since 2018 after posting a loss, prompting SBB Cargo to focus on automation and digitalisation as it sought to reduce the 2,200-person workforce by 800 by 2023.

The Swiss government announced last December it hoped to sell a minority stake amid efforts to return the business to a profit by 2020.

"The combined logistics abilities of these partners will strengthen rail freight transport and contribute to shifting cargo from the streets to the rails," SBB Cargo Chief Executive Nicolas Perrin said. (Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)

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