'Hostile takeover' for Ferrocarril de Sóller?

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News comes in the Guardian published this afternoon (Saturday 17th August) an ‘anonymous’ group of people are attempting to buy out the famous Mallorcan railway which runs between Palma and Sóller.

Its a very successful line these days yet it seems others are eyeing the famous railway which is no doubt one of the world’s more successful private rail companies.

It seems to be a struggle between those who want to modernise the railway even further and those who want it kept simply as it is.

The shareholders, who number in their hundreds, are mostly locals from Sóller, Puerto de Sóller, Biniaraix and Fornalutx, some with as few as ten shares each. They have until 6th September to decide whether they want to sell their shares and allow the take over to go ahead.

The full report can be seen in The Guardian.

It is said elsewhere that the people of the Sóller valley refuse to sell their train: “The railway is not to be touched.”

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News report in El Mundo (translated to English)

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The offer of acquisition of shares in the railway – in other words the take over bid. Source: Twitter

It is claimed the take over bid is by anonymous people however this news report tells us its Goros Investments which represents various companies and individuals, some of whom are well know Mallorcan tourist business innovators.

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Part of that report is below translated into English via Google:

A group of investors has submitted an offer to buy the Sóller Railway for about 25 million euros, with the intention of acquiring one hundred percent of its shares, through a proposal addressed to all shareholders and whose deadline is September 6.

This is a group of private investors that includes Spanish and Mallorcan entrepreneurs linked to the tourism sector and a leading European company in passenger transport represented by Goros Investments.

The offer is 147 euros per share, a figure that they estimate would be triple its market value and is aimed at around 200 shareholders of the traditional railway. At the moment, the majority shareholders of the company are the tourist entrepreneur of Sóller Vicente Sastre Cardell, owner of the Mar y Sol restaurant and tourist establishments of sa Calobra , and the company Blue Boats.

The share capital of the Sóller Railway is 172,000 shares. The offer is conditioned on the fact that investors can acquire more than 50% of the capital, to the elimination of the restriction to the transfer of shares contained in the current Statutes of the entity and to obtain the pertinent administrative authorizations

The intention of the investors would be to modernize the railway with measures such as making it accessible to people with mobility difficulties, enabling the purchase of tickets online as well as paying by credit card, implementing cultural itineraries associated with the train journey and promoting the use of railway in low season by Mallorcans.

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The station buildings at the tram terminus in Puerto de Sóller are in fact used the Mar y Sol restaurant. The business has been run from here since about the 1920s and is one of the main shareholders in the Sóller Railway and its tramway. Source: Google Streets

A different report names a Barcelona business that is apparently involved in the take over.

Clearly the bidders want to modernise the railway including making it more accessible and the rest of it. Its not accessible currently, not without wheelchairs being manually lifted into the carriages. Perhaps they want to introduce specially built carriages that will have full accessibility, who knows.

The present management, under the direction of Óscar Mayol, can do that no doubt and introduce other necessary measures to stave off the bid whilst at the same time keeping the historic aspects of the railway itself. There’s clearly enough money for such instances which can easily bring the railway in line even more within modern needs. A lot of money has been spent in the last few years on the railway’s infrastructure, but for all one knows, it could be that some think the management are moving a little too slowly in regards to other aspects of the railway.

Time will tell.

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