Russian Railways (RZD) says its recent purchase of 75% of PSA Peugeot Citroen’s GEFCO logistics division will see “most” of the current management and staff retained, although it does not rule out ‘efficiency’ changes.

Competition authorities in Russia (FAS) today (19 November) confirmed to just-auto from Moscow they had given the green light to RZD to buy the Gefco shares for EUR800m (US$1.02bn), although their counterparts in France have yet to voice similar approval.

“We will keep the [Gefco] headquarters in France, the CEO, most of management and staff,” Russian Railways president, Vladimir Yakunin, said in comments verified to just-auto by RZD from Russia.

“That does not mean later, some changes, decided with our French partners, to make Gefco more efficient.”

The Russian Railways president also gave some insight into why RZD was so keen on buying a majority stake in Gefco, having had recently to sell its freight subsidiary, PGK, as part of a privatisation drive to liberalise the Russian economy.

As PGK brought in RUB20bn per year in profits to RZD, the railway operator said it had to find new revenue sources and settled on Gefco, once it became aware PSA wanted to sell.

The relationship had already existed to some extent through RZD’s supply of Peugeot’s factory near Moscow, while the Russian company also wanted to reinforce its growing role in transportation between Asia and Europe.

“Our priority is the development of freight activity between Asia and Europe, with us in between,” said Yakunin. “Russia, Belarussia and Kazakhstan expect to create a common rail logistics business.

“Gefco, all the while remaining an independent subsidiary at the heart of RZD, will be an integral part of this new Asia-Europe rail corridor that we are going to put in place.”

Yakunin added RZD would also look at co-operating with French rail operator, SNCF, with whom “we already work very closely” and to that end would open an office in Paris.

PSA is looking to tie up all the elements of RZD’s share investment by the end of next month and will use the finance to pay off debt.