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By John Helmer, Moscow

Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), owned by Sergei Generalov, announced yesterday it has acquired MetizTrans, a small railcar operator in eastern Siberia. No value for the transaction was disclosed; MetizTrans owns 971 railcars, used mostly for delivering Russian coal to Sea of Japan ports for export.

The announced purchase makes a small increment to Fesco’s railcar fleet of 19,000 units, according to a Fesco release. “We believe the acquisition … will further boost our presence in rail transportation in these regions”, Fesco quotes Alexey Grom, its Vice-President for Rail, as saying.

A Moscow maritime analyst told Fairplay the deal signals that the hoped-for takeover by Fesco of state-owned TransContainer, with almost 26,000 railcars, is barred by Generalov’s rivals and by Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russian Railways, which controls Transcontainer.

“They have probably lost hopes for the big pie,” the source told Fairplay. “So they are spending money for small ginger breads.” At IPO last November, Fesco bought a 12.5% stake in Transcontainer, and announced it wants to acquire the remaining state stake of 65%.

How does the MetizTrans purchase make sense if the much bigger acquisition of TransContainer is still in prospect? Fesco spokesman Stanislav Vartanyan said: “There is no connection between MetizTrans and TransContainer at all”.

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