Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-Shing snaps up British freight trains


Click to follow

Asia’s richest man expanded his portfolio of British assets yesterday by buying the passenger and freight train-owner Eversholt Rail for £2.5bn.

The Hong Kong-based billionaire, Li Ka-Shing, known as “Superman”  in the region because of his legendary deal-making skills, already controls Northumbrian Water and mobile phone network Three through his business empire. He is also understood to be in talks to buy O2 for £9bn. Mr Li is estimated to be worth about $30bn (£19bn).

In this latest deal, his CK Investments has bought Eversholt from its owners 3i Infrastructure, Morgan Stanley and STAR Capital. Eversholt was once part of British Rail and owns about 28 per cent of the UK’s passenger fleets.

“The rolling-stock leasing business adds a new facet to our transportation business portfolio,” Mr Li said in a statement. “CKI will continue to seek acquisition opportunities from around the world that will further expand and enrich the group’s investment portfolio.”

Eversholt, alongside Angel Trains and Porterbrook, has dominated the rolling-stock market since 1994, when the Government privatised Britain’s railways. The companies have proved attractive to investors for their steady income, longer-term leases and the country’s growing numbers of rail passengers.

Peter Sedgwick, chairman of 3i Infrastructure, which stands to make about £358m from the sale, said: “Although 3i Infrastructure generally aims to hold its core investments over the long term, it will sell investments from time to time where this generates significant additional value for shareholders.” The deal is expected to close in March if approved by the European Commission.   

“Eversholt Rail is well positioned to continue its successful development as a provider of key infrastructure to the UK rail sector,” added Paul Gough, Partner at STAR Capital. “CKI has extensive experience in managing infrastructure assets and we wish all those at the company much success under its new ownership.”