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Simson defends EVR Cargo's Russian investment plans

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center).
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center). Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Minister of Economic Affairs Kadri Simson (Center) explained EVR Cargo’s Russian investment plan on Wednesday. Simson pointed out that the company is already leasing 1,100 freight cars to customers, and that not all of this business is connected with Russian companies.

Not everything related to Russia necessarily needed to be ruled out, Simson said in an interview with ERR on Wednesday. At the same time, not all the freight business on the east-west routes was necessarily Russian. The freight volumes also came from Kazakhstan, China, and Finland.

Simson stressed that in terms of the sanctions imposed on Russia for its interference in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea this business was going ahead within the set limits, and other EU member states were involved as well.

Talking about the Russian railway’s role in the state’s power structure, Simson said that that not everything labelled “Russian” needed to be ruled out. Such a course wasn’t sensible.

There was no cold war going on, and at the same time the claim wasn’t true either that the Estonian taxpayer’s money would be used to pick up loans and invest the money where only Russian businesses and workers would profit from it. EVR Cargo needed to modernize its rolling stock anyway.

On the contrary: This new direction of EVR Cargo’s business was the company’s way out of the red. Within a year its new management had managed to turn a €1.8 million loss into a merely “symbolic” one. It was in the interest of the state to get its companies in shape to actually make sustainable profits as well, Simson said.

Simson also pointed out that the company was addressing all possible risks, among them giving preference to agreements in euros and with EU-registered companies in order to avoid issues connected to the rouble.

Chairman of EVR Cargo’s supervisory board, Neeme Jõgi, said earlier on Wednesday that the board would only allow management to proceed if they found that the business plan was clear enough. Currently this wasn’t the case. The supervisory board are meeting tomorrow Thursday.

Commenting on then Minister of Finance Sven Sester’s proposal to take EVR Cargo public, Simson said that with the company’s results in recent years the state couldn’t expect a good price for the stake to be offered publicly, though she didn’t rule out the possibility of selling EVR Cargo stock once the situation improves.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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