TALLINN - Officials from Deutsche Bahn, Germany's state-owned rail company, have confirmed their interest in buying a stake in Estonian Railway. During a meeting between German Ambassador Julius Bobinger and Estonian Minister of Economy and Communications Edgar Savisaar on March 30, the former said Deutsche Bahn is seriously considering investment in Estonian railways and would decide within three weeks. If the decision is positive, the German side will begin talks with Estonia, ministry spokespeople said.
The ambassador's message is the first official confirmation of Deutsche Bahn's interest in Estonian Railway, a 66 percent stake in which the state has unsuccessfully tried to purchase from a private shareholder.
Savisaar admitted to Bobinger that the state's efforts to privatize the Estonian railway in 2001 had been "a failure."
Savisaar reaffirmed the government's continued interest in repurchasing privately-owned shares in the rail company, even though talks over a price have so far been fruitless. "But we remain buyers. And, as it turns out, Deutsche Bahn and the Estonian state are competitors in this question," the minister observed.
Ministry officials have repeatedly said that the state's 34 percent interest in Estonian Railway, which owns the infrastructure and is a cargo operator, is too small to successfully develop the railway.
Bobinger said the main goal of his meeting with Savisaar was to pass Deutsche Bahn's message on to Estonia.
At the end of last year, German investments in Estonia stood at 3.16 billion kroons (202 million euros), accounting for 1.9 percent of all direct investment. This made Germany the fifth-largest investor after Sweden, Finland, the United States and the Netherlands.