The direct investment in rail industry in Turkey last year took great attention while many companies were waiting for things to settle down in economics and particularly in rail business.
It was Greenbrier, U.S.-based rolling stock manufacturer, which acquired Rayvag, a Turkish rolling stock maintenance company.
This is the third step of Greenbrier Europe after acquisition of Wagony Świdnica in Poland (1998) and merging with AstraRail in Romania (2017). With this step, Greenbrier has become the first direct foreign investor in railway business after liberalization of railway transport in Turkey.
Having many questions about the history and future of this step, Mr. Jim Cowan, the President of Greenbrier International, accepted our interview invitation and answered them all very openly and clearly.
Thank you, Mr. Cowan. I’ll start directly with a question many have in mind. Why Rayvag was chosen to be acquired among all?
Rayvag always stood out to us because of its entrepreneurial spirit. Greenbrier’s foundation and history are based on an entrepreneurial spirit that is still a big fabric of our culture today. We are confident that Rayvag provides an excellent platform to scale and grow, given its experience and capabilities.
How will Rayvag be positioned in the market? What’s your strategy for Turkey?
Rayvag is well known for the premier services it provides for wagon maintenance and refurbishment. However, it also has the capability to manufacture new wagons. We are currently exploring options to expand capacity. We will position Rayvag to provide complete life cycle solutions for freight wagons as a one stop shop for our customers.
In line with our strategy with Rayvag, we will develop additional services and business models that willmake wagons more accessible. We will be able to introduce different railsolutions with a full complement of TSI designs that we currently produce for the European market.
Is facility at Adana ready for these targets?
It will be soon. One of the first investments will be to increase production capacity at the plant. We will also continue to expand aftermarket offerings for our customers. With an expanded portfolio of designs and services, Rayvag will become a key supplierfor the Turkish rail freight market.
Will we be able to see any example of this expanded portfolio soon?
We are currently developing our first production plans. One of the early wagon types we plan to manufacture will be used for transportation of intermodal and/or domestic containers.
Is this investment mainly for Turkey or do you already have plans for neighbor countries as well?
Our initial focus is to establish ourselves in the Turkish market. There has been some stagnation in the market during the transition period during liberalization but we expect to see increasing activity. The size of the market will be impacted by the speed of new private operators and logistics solution providers. We believe theTurkish market can support 2,000 to 3,000 new wagons per year.
Of course, there may befuture opportunities where exports from Rayvag are possible and we’ll surely consider them.
Greenbrier had invested in two countries in Europe before Rayvag. How things are going withthe first two?
The combination of our Poland and Romanian facilities provide us the most diversified wagon portfolio in Europe. We also combined our expertise between two very strong technical organizations. We continue to integrate our operations to create synergies thatwill make Greenbrier more competitive. Our market share range has reached between 40% to a 50% in Europe following the acquisition of AstraRail.
It may be early to ask, but how things are going in Turkey? You’ve invested in a tough period of Turkey where also the railway business in Turkey is trying to find its way.
We learned a lot duringthis period. We engaged with many industry stakeholders who thoughtfully sharedtheir insights and provided feedback. Our decision to enter the Turkish marketwas more about “how we enter” rather than “if we enter”. We believe in the long-term fundamentals of the Turkish market and are extremely pleased to be here now.
Greenbrier seems to have sped up in Europe since 2017. Shall we expect new acquisitions in the near future in Turkey and/or in the region?
We are always looking for opportunities to identify new growth markets or projects. Our global footprintgives us the flexibility to pursue additional investments that fit within Greenbrier’s strategic goals.
Thank you, Mr. Cowan, for your time. Wish you the best in Turkey.
Interview: Onur Uysal
Cover photo: Rayvag ©
Categories: Railway Companies