Aberdeen Standard in multi-billion rail plan

Edinburgh-based asset management giant Aberdeen Standard Investments and London-based Rock Rail and have finalised an agreement to fund, purchase and then lease new fleets of trains across Europe.

Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard together have already financed and procured modern train fleets for three UK rail networks – involving a total investment of £2 billion.

The new joint venture will draw on that expertise to focus on private financing solutions tailored for rail networks in Continental Europe and Scandinavia.

Aberdeen Standard will provide the funding from its infrastructure equity funds such as SL Capital Infrastructure Fund II managed by a 14 strong team led by Dominic Helmsley.

Helmsley, Aberdeen Standard’s head of economic infrastructure, said: “Extending our partnership with Rock Rail will allow us to continue our journey in the rail industry, and access a much wider opportunity set within Europe for our infrastructure funds and clients.

“The infrastructure investing team has worked successfully with Rock Rail in the UK, together building effective relationships with rail operators, manufacturers and government bodies.

“Both organisations can now take those skills and experience to Europe to create new financing solutions for European rail networks.

“The Rock ASI model will support the passenger rail industry, helping it to expand and modernise across Europe as an essential and environmentally-friendly mode of transport.

“For pension funds and insurance companies invested in our infrastructure funds, this fits with our strategy to invest in core assets which aim to provide long-term stable returns.”

Rock Rail CEO Mark Swindell said: “We have big ambitions in Europe.

“The opportunity is here to develop the right train investment and ownership model tailored to individual countries and rail networks.

“We aim to deliver enhanced value to both the public sector and passengers, bringing in new direct long-term investment from the institutional sector, which has investment time frames, liabilities and return requirements that are closely aligned to rolling stock as an asset class.

“Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments together are uniquely placed to draw on our experience in redefining the rules of engagement in the UK and to build on our existing strong relationships across both the rail industry and institutional investment sector.

“We know the appetite for European market investment exists amongst our established equity and debt funder community and we are delighted to be extending our partnership with Aberdeen Standard Investments to develop innovative bespoke procurement solutions for European rolling stock and to deliver new sources of investment into the European rail infrastructure market.”