HŽ Cargo is looking for a strategic partner again
The Croatian government has made a new attempt to find a strategic partner for the national rail freight operator HŽ Cargo. The Minister of Transport and Infrastructure explained that he believes the process will be more successful than the previous attempt in 2015, as HŽ Cargo is now “a clean, healthy company with stable operations.” A partner is expected to be identified by the end of the year, Railway Supply reports, citing the Railway Gazette.
At the end of 2022, the government approved the settlement of a 16-year-old legal dispute between HŽ Infrastruktura and HŽ Cargo regarding the distribution of property in the restructuring of the state railway. The government reportedly agreed to provide 170 million euros to end the dispute.
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Meanwhile, other rail freight operators believe that HŽ Cargo’s failure to pay 32.6 million euros for network access and electricity debts to HŽ Infrastruktura constitute an unfair state subsidy.
Although the state-owned operator is still a major player in the Croatian rail freight market, its market share is no longer as high. In 2007, HŽ Cargo transported 15.73 million tons, but in 2015, when independent operators entered the market, this figure dropped to 9.94 million tons. By 2021, HŽ Cargo has handled only 6 million of the 15.18 million tons transported on the country’s rail network.
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