BERLIN Jan 20 German national rail operator Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] plans to spend up to 170 million euros ($249.2 million) acquiring Britain's Laing Rail, the owner of Chiltern Railways, a German newspaper said on Sunday.
Citing sources involved in the negotiations, the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) said Deutsche Bahn would announce the takeover of Laing on Monday, according to the advance copy of an article due to appear in the paper's Monday edition.
Chiltern railways has a franchise to run passenger services northwest from London toward Birmingham until 2020. According to the FTD, it has an annual turnover of some 280 million euros.
The paper said Deutsche Bahn would be able to link Laing Rail with its British freight unit English Welsh & Scottish Railway Holdings (EWS).
EWS and Laing would have a combined turnover of around 1 billion euros annually, and Deutsche Bahn plans to use the new acquisition for further expansion in Britain, the FTD added.
Neither Deutsche Bahn, which the German government aims to partly privatise by the end of 2009, nor Laing were immediately available for comment.
Fund manager Henderson HGI.L put the rail operations up for sale in September so that its project manager division, John Laing, can focus on its core infrastructure activities.
Britain's Go-Ahead Group (GOG.L) and Arriva ARI.L had said last year they would be looking at Chiltern, while National Express (NEX.L) and Stagecoach (SGC.L) and French bus and rail operator Keolis had also been seen as likely bidders. ($1=.6822 Euro) (Reporting by Dave Graham and Chris Wills, editing by Maureen Bavdek)