Outlook: Rolling in railway millionaires

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The Independent Online
Britain's latest railway millionaire, John Prideaux, was keeping an understandably low profile yesterday. All that lolly and for so little work, it's almost embarrassing. And just think of all the begging letters if word gets around too much.

Aside from the ex-InterCity man's pounds 15m the interesting thing about the sale of Angel Trains to Royal Bank of Scotland, is just how cannily Nomura has played its hand.

The Japanese bank was the first to really focus on how much value could be extracted from these cash machines otherwise known as railway rolling stock companies. Hence its decision to finance the original acquisition of Angel from the Government with debt and then immediately securitise it against the guaranteed revenue streams, thereby achieving a triple A debt rating and lowering its cost of capital.

Stagecoach copied the Nomura model exactly, allowing it to pay an extra pounds 300m for Porterbrook and start the gravy train rolling for Sandy Anderson. The pattern was repeated all over again with Eversholt Leasing.

Even after paying Nomura pounds 395m for the privilege of inheriting Angel's securitised loans, RBS must still think there is money to be made. All of which makes you fair wonder how much more the previous government might have raised for the taxpayer had it not been in such a hurry. Still time for a juicy postscript before the National Audit Office sends its report off to the printers.