Russian Railways is the third largest transport group in the world

Russian Railways is the third largest transport group in the world

Russian Railways (RZD) says its acquisition of 75% of PSA Peugeot Citroen's logistics division Gefco, will see the business remain an independent entity.

The comments add to those made by the Russian transport body's president, Vladimir Yakunin, at the end of last year, when he said "most" of the Gefco management and staff would be retained, with its headquarters remaining in France, although he did not rule out 'efficiency' changes.

RZD paid PSA EUR800m (US$1.07bn) for the 75% stake as part of the French automaker's drive to pay off debt and restructure, a process that will also see it shutter the Aulnay plant near Paris next year and cut up to 8,000 jobs.

"Gefco will remain an independent company," an RZD spokesman told just-auto from Russia. "It is not a question of headcount reduction - Gefco is a business that works well.

"It is not a question of changing in Europe - it is a question of integrating the technology in Russia. Here in Russia, logistics, it is not very extensive. For us Gefco as a business is very interesting for innovation and logistics."

Yakunin has emphasised the importance of developing freight activity between Asia and Europe "with us in between," while also pointing to the expectation of a common rail logistics business between Russia, Belarussia and Kazakhstan.

"It is the start of the road," said the RZD spokesman. "The acquisition took place less than one year ago - we have paid PSA - it was EUR800m."

The Russian Railways spokesman added there had been "lots of differences" between the cultures of the PSA logistics division and RZD but that it had been "a good start."

RZD is the sole owner of the rail track and key rail infrastructure in Russia and one of the three largest transport groups in the world, with freight turnover of almost 2.7bn tonne-kilometres in 2011 and around 130bn passenger-kilometres.