January 30, 2019 / 6:38 PM / 18 days ago

Deutsche Bahn discusses selling assets to boost finances: sources

BERLIN (Reuters) - Deutsche Bahn executives discussed selling logistics arm Schenker during a meeting on Wednesday with Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer about how to boost the German rail operator’s finances, people at the meeting told Reuters.

Deutsche Bahn has a debt mountain of 20 billion euros ($23 billion) and the meeting with Scheuer was to discuss how the state-owned operator can plug a financing deficit expected to hit 5 billion euros by 2023.

The possibility of floating Deutsche Bahn’s Arriva international passenger transport system was also discussed at the meeting attended by Deutsche Bahn chief Richard Lutz and finance boss Alexander Doll, the people said.

Deutsche Bahn hired banks in 2016 to help it float Arriva and Schenker with the goal of raising 4.5 billion euros.

A Deutsche Bahn spokeswoman said no decision had been made.

Any sale of Deutsche Bahn assets must be approved by its supervisory board, which meets in March.

Another possibility to increase liquidity would be a cash injection from the government or changing the rules to allow Deutsche Bahn to sink more into debt than the maximum limit of 20 billion euros it has now reached.

Deutsche Bahn executives did not express a preference for any financing option, the people said.

In addition to the 5 billion euros it needs to pay salaries and order new trains, Deutsche Bahn is also asking the government for 7 billion euros for its railway network.

Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Potter

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