Following months of speculation, the sale of Deutsche Bahn logistics arm DB Schenker is now on the table, despite the Berlin government appearing to be mainly opposed to the move just four weeks ago. If inked, the deal would shovel billions of euros into the coffers of state-owned parent, Deutsche Bahn. But only once. Schenker, DB's most financially lucrative subsidiary, would then be gone. No wonder, therefore, that opposition to the sale is already taking shape.
Internally, preparations are underway to sell DB Schenker, Klaus-Dieter Hommel, Chairman of the rail and transport union, EVG, confirmed to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) press agency. Hommel
also currently heads the supervisory board of the state-owned group.
Deutsche Bahn and the Federal Ministry of Transport, when approached by the media, declined to comment on any intentions of selling the logistics heavyweight.
Schenker contributes 30% to parent DB
In a statement, unionist Hommel criticized that the planned disposal is pure nonsense from an economic point of view. DB Schenker generates 30% of the group’s total sales and delivers stable profits. He added that Deutsche Bahn was also squandering the opportunity to become a powerful player in international freight transport.
Market analysts estimate that the Schenker transaction could channel as much as 20 billion euros into Deutsche Bahn’s coffers. DB Schenker is one of the world’s leading providers of air, ocean, and land transports, with contract logistics rounding off its service portfolio. Currently, 74,200 employees working at 2,100 stations worldwide, are listed on the company’s payroll. There has been repeated speculation about a sale. International financial investors are named first as possible buyers, with an IPO also considered being a realistic option.
"Our union representatives will sharply oppose any sales initiatives,” Mr. Hommel announced massive resistance. He warned against offering the highly profitable logistics player on a silver plate to profit-hungry “locusts”. Instead, DB Schenker should be completely dovetailed with the rail freight division DB Cargo, he demanded.
The highly indebted DB Group is under great pressure. Due to years of austerity policies by Mrs. Merkel's government, the infrastructure has been badly neglected, as evidenced by dilapidated tracks, malfunctioning signal systems, and frequent technical defects in trains and line systems. Working through this list of shortcomings and making the railroad fit for the future, will require significantly more money than the sale of Schenker would generate.
In the ruling three-party coalition of Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals, the Liberals in particular, but also certain Green members, are in favor of privatizing DB Schenker and splitting it from the DB Group. In contrast, the plans are rejected by most Social Democrats and the rail transport union.
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