The Greenbrier Cos., Inc., Lake Oswego, Ore., and Astra Rail Management GmbH announced plans to form a new company, Greenbrier-Astra Rail, which will create a Europe-based, end-to-end freight railcar manufacturing, engineering and repair business.  

The combined enterprise will be formed between Greenbrier's European operations headquartered in Swidnica, Poland, and Astra Rail, based in Germany and Arad, Romania. 

Greenbrier-Astra Rail will be controlled by Greenbrier with an approximate 75% interest. Astra Rail's chairman Thomas Manns will own the remainder of the new company, and become chairman of the Supervisory Board of Greenbrier-Astra Rail, leading the new company's commercial operations, working closely with its management board and Jim Cowan, president of Greenbrier International. Also serving on the Supervisory Board will be Bill Furman, chairman and CEO of Greenbrier; and Alejandro Centurion, president of Greenbrier global manufacturing operations. Daily operations will be led by Bernd Böse, chief executive officer of Astra Rail, who will become president and CEO, and Bogdan Lesnianski, chief financial officer and the head of Greenbrier's Wagony Swidnica operations. 

Greenbrier-Astra Rail will include all European operations of Greenbrier and Astra Rail. Currently, Greenbrier and Astra Rail each operate three locations performing new railcar manufacturing, engineering and repair services. Contracts with Greenbrier-based customers for U.S.-style freight railcars will continue to be designed and manufactured under the direction of Greenbrier's senior U.S. manufacturing team.

The new company will offer premier freight railcar sales, manufacturing and repair operations on the European continent.

"Greenbrier is committed to pursuing strategic opportunities for growth afforded by shifts in global demand for railcars,” says Furman. “Greenbrier-Astra Rail extends our core competency in freight railcar building, aftermarket services and engineering for all railroad gauges, with a network spanning from North and South America to all of Western Europe, the GCC and Eurasia. This will be a significant and positive step in our strategy for diversification, and Astra Rail is a great partner. They bring new products to us as we do to them, and our present businesses are not directly competitive. Combining the Greenbrier Europe operations with Astra Rail's manufacturing and design capabilities and strong management team will be a benefit to our shared European railcar customers by creating a more efficient and responsive manufacturer that offers a broad range of products. The combined enterprise will bring increased scale in Europe. Importantly, it also will bring the capability to serve new global markets in places of increasing demand."

"Coupled with our investments in Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Mexico, Greenbrier has grown its international footprint and created a global network,” he adds. “We are capable of supporting many markets from our global facilities, including an expanded platform in Europe, as we engage developing markets in the GCC, Africa and Eurasia. We believe there are significant future opportunities in international markets. Our integrated business model ensures we are well positioned to help customers globally with rail solutions."

"By combining the European operations of Greenbrier and Astra Rail, we will create a company that will be stronger and more able to pursue future growth opportunities in the European region and beyond,” says Manns. “This combination will expand our base of executive talent and will grow our engineering and technical resources for the support and development of freight railcar manufacturing and services throughout the world. I look forward to leading the team to future success, along with Bernd Böse and Bogdan Lesnianski, as well as fellow Greenbrier-Astra Rail directors Bill Furman, Alejandro Centurion and Jim Cowan."

Greenbrier-Astra Rail will be headquartered in The Netherlands and will have principal operations in Poland and Romania, housing nearly 4,000 employees and six production and repair facilities across Europe.