Australian investment group to purchase short line operator Patriot Rail and Ports

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NEW YORK — Australian infrastructure investment firm First State Investments will acquire short line operator Patriot Rail and Ports from SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners, the companies announced today.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Jacksonville, Fla., based Patriot Rail operates a dozen short line railroads, has a rail services arm, and is an East Coast port terminal operator.

First State is partnering with MidRail LLC, a New York-based firm that aims to acquire and develop short line railroads and industrial railroad operations. MidRail is headed by Gilbert Lamphere, who co-founded shortline holding company MidSouth Corp., was chairman of Illinois Central, and a board member at Canadian National, Florida East Coast, and CSX Transportation.

First State says the acquisition fits with its “buy and build” strategy as a long-term holder of transportation and utility infrastructure around the world.

"More than ever, short-line rail is a key player in the efficient movement of freight in this country," Patriot CEO John Fenton said in a statement. "We look forward to working with First State Investments on growing Patriot's business over the long-term."

Fenton and the Patriot management team will continue to lead the company.

"We share a similar vision and outlook with [First State] for expanding a sustainable and efficient rail business in North America, and we're enthusiastic about helping build the Patriot platform," Lamphere said.

Patriot’s railroads total 600 miles and include the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific; Columbia & Cowlitz; DeQueen & Eastern; Georgia Northeastern; Golden Triangle Railroad; Kingman Terminal Railroad; Louisiana & North West Railroad; Sacramento Valley Railroad; Texas & Temple Railway; Tennessee Southern; Utah Central; and West Belt Railway.

Patriot also operates the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Georgia.

The company’s services include railcar storage and repairs, contract switching, and transloading. The port terminal operations include breakbulk, roll-on roll-off, and container terminals as well as a cold storage facility.
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