Asset management companies step up in European wagon leasing market

2022/06/29 at 2:10 PM

Trying to extend their investment portfolio, the European asset management companies are paying more and more attention to railways in general and the wagon leasing sector in particular. Some of them are joining forces to manage new acquisitions together. In this regard, the partnership of Swiss Life Asset Managers and Vauban Infrastructure Partners is a fruitful example of this cooperation.

Wascosa tank wagons, source: Wascosa

More than 26,000 wagons running in most of the European countries… Such a fleet will be soon managed by the consortium of Swiss Life Asset Managers and Vauban Infrastructure Partners. This is a result of the two deals concluded by the Zürich-based asset management company and its Paris-based partner. “The European rail sector represents an important part of our infrastructure portfolio and provides our investors with attractive investments with a focus on ESG,” said Christoph Manser, head for infrastructure equity international at Swiss Life Asset Managers. In the near future, when the consortium’s second deal will be completed, the role of rail-related assets will increase.

Two major players

In November 2021, Swiss Life and Vauban via its joint venture, Rhine Rail Investment, acquired the 88.33 per cent stake in Aves One, the Hamburg-based wagon lessor with a broadly diversified portfolio of more than 11,000 freight and tank wagons as well as more than 9,000 swap bodies. The German wagon company owns one of the youngest and most modern fleets in Europe. The same story is about Wascosa, the Switzerland-based wagon lessor. It has even a larger fleet compared to Aves One, over 15,000 wagons. In late June 2022, the Swiss company was purchased by Swiss Life and Vauban from Philipp Müller, Wascoca’s current president, and his family.

Aves One owns over 11,000 wagons, source: Aves One

Future growth

In both cases, all the participants highlighted the significance of the deals for the future growth of the wagon lessors. “We consider the new main shareholders, Swiss Life and Vauban, to be the optimal partners to continue our growth trajectory and to lead Aves One into the next development phase. As contractually agreed, they intend to provide additional capital of at least 100 million euros,” stated Tobias Aulich, Member of the Management Board of Aves One, before signing the agreement with Rhine Rail Investment.

“Wascosa will benefit from the strong momentum and favourable market outlook for European rail wagons and profit from Swiss Life Asset Managers’ and Vauban’s professional expertise in the rail market and infrastructure experience,” Swiss Life stated in its announcement about the planned deal with the Zürich-based wagon owner. To confirm their commitment, the asset management companies decided to remain the chairmen of Aves One and Wascosa, Tobias Aulich and Philipp Müller, in office.

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