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JPMorgan moves for UK rolling stock firm

Pamplona Capital’s sale of Beacon Rail comes just under three years after the UK company paid $450m to acquire the firm.

JP Morgan Asset Management has agreed to buy UK-based rolling stock company Beacon Rail from private equity group Pamplona Capital Management.

The acquisition of the rail lessor, which operates in northern and western Europe as well as in its native UK, was reported by The Sunday Times to be worth €1 billion, although JPMorgan declined to comment on the figure and Pamplona could not be reached before press time.

Such a deal would represent a sizeable return on investment for Pamplona, which paid BTMU Capital, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ, $450 million for Beacon Rail in May 2014 through its €2 billion Pamplona Capital Partners III fund.

Beacon Rail has since almost trebled the number of locomotives in its fleet, to 225. Its portfolio also comprises over 1,000 freight wagons, 55 passenger train units, 67 double decker coaches and 13 sets of five-car intercity carriages. Last year it snapped up rival Ascendos Rail Leasing, which was partly owned by Everest Babcock & Brown.

The transaction is the latest in the UK’s rolling stock sector, which in the past few months has seen John Laing Infrastructure Fund invest £42.4 million ($52.3 million; €50.3 million) in the Intercity Express Programme Phase 1 and Japan’s Mitsui & Co buy a stake in the Greater Anglia rail franchise.