Two Australian firms join chase for Porterbrook

Th leasing company that owns a third of trains running in the UK looks just the ticket for two Australian investment firms, as they are believed to have jumped on board the chase to buy railway rolling stock supplier Porterbrook.

Porterbrook was founded in 1994 during the rail privatisation enacted by the Conservative government led by Prime Minister John Major. Provision of the vast majority of rolling stock for the UK railway industry since then has been delivered mainly by Porterbrook together with rival firms Angel Trains and Eversholt Rail Group.

Porterbrook is now believed to be the subject of a pursuit by global investment firm Macquarie Bank, and a consortium led by infrastructure investor Hastings Funds Management, together with German firm Allianza and Canadian firm Aimco.

As well as the Australian firms, billionaire Li Ka-Shing’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure, the largest publicly listed firm of its type in Hong Kong, is also believed to be interested. There is potential for a bidding war that could value Porterbrook at over £2bn, according to the Sunday Times.

Since its formation in the early days of privatisation, Porterbrook has been owned by StageCoach between 1996 and 2000, when it was sold to Abbey National.

Most recently it was sold in 2008 to a consortium led by iCON Infrastructure, including Deutsche Bank, Antin Infrastructure, Lloyds TSB and OP Trust, though Lloyds exited the consortium in 2010.

Porterbrook announced in April of this year that it had raised £1.2bn in a debt refinancing deal.