Russian Railways Seeks $6Bln From Share Offers in 2 Firms

Russian Railways, or RZD, the country's state-owned rail monopoly, expects to raise more than 150 billion rubles ($6 billion) from share sales in the next three years to help finance expansion.

RZD plans to sell part of cargo carrier Transcontainer to a strategic investor this year or next and hold an initial public offering of First Freight in 2009 or 2010, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

RZD plans to spend more than 13 trillion rubles ($520 billion) upgrading and expanding its network and rolling stock by 2030, more than one-third of which will come from the state, the company said.

As much as 10 trillion rubles of contracts will be awarded to metal, construction and timber companies for the expansion, RZD said in October.

The rail company carried 1.23 billion tons of cargo in the first 11 months of 2007, 2.4 percent more than in the same period a year earlier, RZD said. The number of passengers carried may reach 1.27 billion this year.

RZD held talks with Montreal-based Bombardier, the world's largest train manufacturer, to sell a stake in Russian rail-equipment manufacturer Transmashholding, chief executive Vladimir Yakunin said Tuesday at a news conference, without providing details.

Bombardier said earlier this month that the talks were "at a very preliminary stage."