A new player, and a classy one, is shaping up to enter the board of the Spanish high speed: Italo. He italian private operator which now competes with the state-owned Trenitalia in the transalpine country has set its eyes on Spain. Or, rather, the one who is emerging as its future owner, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
The billionaire's Italian-Swiss company Gianluigi Aponte has been negotiating with him for months American fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIF) the purchase of Italo. GIF currently controls 72.6% of the railway operator, which it values in its entirety at around 4 billion euros after having acquired it in 2018 for just over 1.9 billion euros. And, as stated from Italy, the agreement between both parties would be very close.
Among the plans that MSC would have for Italo would be its expansion in Spain, France and Germany, along the high-speed backbone networks designed by the European Union. Recently, Italo herself published a special on the Spanish high-speed network on the blog of her website, which she describes as "A young (and ambitious) story."
In the Spanish case, Adif has just launched thesecond stage of the process of liberalization of its high-speed network to add competition to the corridors in which Renfe still exercises a monopoly on this service - right now it competes with iryo and Ouigo on the routes to Levante, Andalusia and Catalonia-French border- . The infrastructure manager plans to add companies in all those corridors in which there is interest to amortize the investments made, which exceed 50,000 million euros.
MSC already operates in the rail transport sector with the company Medway, which has 120 electric locomotives. The company has undertaken a significant and diverse volume of investments in recent years, having agreed to buy Bollore's African transport and logistics business and investing in Italian ferry company Moby SpA. The company also expressed interest in Italian airline ITA Airways, successor to Alitalia, but ultimately decided not to bid for the company, which has been acquired by Germany's Lufthansa. Last May, during the launching of the MSC Nicola Mastro, the largest container ship in the world, Aponte assured that "We believe a lot in the train, not only for freight, but also for passengers and I think that will be the future."
Founded in 2006, Italo currently has a fleet of 51 trains, all manufactured by Alstom, with which it connects 51 Italian cities. Last May it acquired Itabus, thus creating a multimodal group with which to offer a completely integrated service. Along with GIP, its shareholders are made up of the insurer Allianz, which has 11.5% of its capital; the Infra Investor fund (7.6%), MoLagers (0.6%) and other Italian shareholders with 7.7% of the shares. Among these are Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Flavio Cattaneo, Giovanni Punzo, founders of Italo Treno - Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori joined Giuseppe Sciarrone, who failed recently.
GIP's interest in getting rid of Italo already transcended last year, according to Reuters. However, the operation would have been postponed due to the turbulence in the markets due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the change of Government in Italy after the elections last September. GIP, in any case, would be interested in maintaining a stake in Italo that could be around 30%.