Kadas’, Bakala’s, and Holeček’s freight forwarder wants to take over the Croatian equivalent of ČD Cargo

The AWT freight forwarding group, an affiliate of Peter Kadas’ and Zdeněk Bakala’s BXR Group, would like to do some shopping in Croatia. The Croatian government is selling a 75% share of HZ Cargo, a freight rail company that is knee deep in debt; it is, in fact, the equivalent of ČD Cargo in the Czech Republic. Invitations to tender were sent out to Czech, German, Austrian, Italian, and Chinese companies. To date, AWT and Italian Trenitalia have shown interest and already informed the Croatians of their intention to participate. Potential Czech buyers should start studying papers any day now.

The Croatians are crafty, however: although the government intends to keep only a 25% interest, it would like to split the voting rights 50:50. But there is not much margin for negotiation left: one thing that is for certain, is that HZ Cargo is inexorably slipping into bankruptcy. This is apparent from analyses carried out by both the Croatian Ministry of Transport and the World Bank. According to available documents, the company would be valued to around €1.3bn, but the sum of its short-term and long-term debt is almost at the same level – it has grown up to €1.1bn. Unless it is re-capitalized really fast, the corporation with nearly 3,500 staff will go out of business soon.

The new strategic partner is expected to comprehensively modernize the infrastructure, and to invest into logistics centres. The World Bank has promised to support the company’s restructuring.

With around CZK 10bn annual sales, AWT is one of the European leaders of private rail transport. Its fleet consists of more than 160 engines and 5,500 wagons. It owns terminals and controls businesses such as Advanced World Transport, AWT Čechofracht, or the soil-reclamation company AWT Rekultivace. Eighty per cent of its Dutch parent company, Advanced World Transport, is in the hands of Kadas’ and Bakala’s BXR Group, the rest is owned by René Holeček, one of the acquirers of Třinecké železárny when the company was first privatized.

Translated by Lingvus

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