In 2012, Russian Railways acquired 75% shares of French auto transport company, GEFCO, in a deal reported to be €800 million. If there is no fundamental change in this shareholder structure and GEFCO does not succeed in buying back these stakes, the company will face serious economic hardship come 11APR22.
Beginning that day, harsh sanctions imposed by western countries on companies that are majority-owned by state-run Russian shareholders, will take effect. Therefore, the buyback of shares must be
concluded by then to prevent GEFCO from going out of business. This is in the interest of both the French government and, above all, the Stellantis automotive group, one of GEFCO's main
customers, for the transportation of its automobiles. The group includes industrial giants such as Peugeot, Fiat, Citroen, Chrysler, Opel, Alfa Romeo, and others, which provide the bulk of
GEFCO's orders. Meanwhile, Stellantis announced that it intends to buy out RZD to prevent GEFCO from being placed under Western sanctions.
Stellantis eyes buy-out…
Auto transport company, GEFCO, co-owned by French-Italian carmaker, Stellantis (25%), said on Friday that it will buy back the 75% of its shares that are held by Russian Railways (RZD), after it was placed under Western sanctions. Neither GEFCO nor Stellantis disclosed how the intended buy-out would be financed. All the GEFCO management admitted is that running the business had become “extremely difficult due to our shareholding structure.”
… to resell the shares to CMA CGM
Meanwhile, local media report that French shipping group, CMA CGM, was set to acquire GEFCO. If so, it would be the white night rescuing the troubled auto transport company. However, when approached by Reuters, AFP, and other news agencies, the Marseille-based shipping line declined to comment.
For President Emmanuel Macron and the French government, the emerging takeover of GEFCO by CMA CGM would also be the most elegant solution, as presidential elections will be held on 10APR22. And negative headlines about GEFCO's precarious situation would not really be helpful for the current government to stay in office for a second term.
Founded in 1949, GEFCO employs 11,500 staff and runs offices in 47 countries. It tried to float on Euronext in 2019, but had to scrap plans on muted investor interest. In addition to Stellantis, the company operates transports for Ford, Renault, Skoda, and Toyota, but also non-automotive companies such as Nestle and Electrolux.
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