© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An old logo of the Russian Railways is seen on a train at the Museum of Railway technology in Moscow July 1, 2012. Picture taken July 1, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
PARIS (Reuters) – Auto transport company Gefco, co-owned by French-Italian carmaker Stellantis, said on Friday it will buy back the 75% of its shares that are held by Russian Railways (RZD) after it was placed under western sanctions.
The buyback was planned before April 11, the company said in a statement, adding it hoped “to provide more information about the evolution of our shareholder structure in the coming days”.
Business daily Les Echos and other French media reported that French shipping group CMA CGM was set to acquire Gefco.
CMA CGM declined to comment.
Gefco, which did not explain how it would finance the buyout, said running its business had become “extremely difficult due to our shareholding structure”.
Western industrial players are seeking to cut their ties with partners in Russia, which has become increasingly isolated after invading neighbour Ukraine at the end of February.
The British government, in its latest round of sanctions on March 24, cited state-owned RZD, along with some defence companies and the Wagner Group, known for employing mercenaries, for aiding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gefco said the British sanctions, as well as EU and U.S. restrictions, should not impact Gefco as an independent company registered in France.
Founded in 1949, Gefco employs 11,500 staff in 47 countries and sells transport services to Stellantis, Ford, Renault (PA:RENA), Skoda and Toyota, as well as Nestle and Electrolux.
Until 2012, it was fully owned by France’s PSA group, which last year merged with Fiat Chrysler to form Stellantis.
Facing pressure to cut costs, PSA in 2012 sold a 75% stake in Gefco to RZD for 800 million euros ($884.00 million).
Sources told Reuters last year RZD and Stellantis had put Gefco up for sale in a deal expected to be worth more than 2 billion euros. Neither owner commented.
Les Echos, citing sources, said the potential deal with CMA CGM would value Gefco at 450 million-500 million euros.
CMA CGM, one of the world’s largest container shipping lines, has invested heavily in non-maritime logistics in recent years through a series of acquisitions.
($1 = 0.9050 euros)