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Following the investment by the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund 2 (PAIDF2), managed by pan-African fund manager Harith General Partners, in South African locomotive and rail operator Sheltam Group in June, the company has launched several initiatives to enhance its offering to the rail industry.

These include the rebranding of the Sheltam Group to Traxtion, and the official launches of Traxtion Leasing, a focused rolling stock leasing company, and Traxtion Projects, a focused rail infrastructure investment platform.

Sheltam has embraced the new Traxtion brand as it interfaces with “the new energy” being brought to Sheltam by Principle Capital, Harith and the Sheltam executive, the company noted in a statement last month.

“With more than 30 years’ experience, Traxtion Sheltam is the perfect platform for us to launch Traxtion Leasing and Traction Projects from, which form the three parts of the Traxtion Group,” Traxtion CEO James Holley stated, noting that the strong financial backing of Harith marries operational expertise with financial capacity and an understanding of how to make projects work in Africa.

“It is just what the rail industry in Africa needs,” he noted.

Traxtion Leasing will focus on product innovation and flexible financing solutions, and with the maintenance support of Traxtion Sheltam, as well as parts supply, it is expected to bring world-class solutions to Africa.

The business will be run by Willem Goosen, who has been appointed CEO.

Goosen, who has 30 years’ experience in the global rolling stock leasing segment, has been instrumental in the successful launch of three other leasing businesses.

Traxtion Leasing is supported by Harith as anchor investor, but will be managed by Traxtion Group on behalf of Harith.

Traxtion Projects, also underwritten by Harith, aims to marry the deep project finance experience of Harith with the operational excellence and rail freight flow understanding of Traxtion Sheltam, Holley stated.

The platform, the first dedicated rail track infrastructure platform focused exclusively on Africa, will seek to invest in concession companies and rail track upgrades, as well as new-build projects and associated infrastructure.

Traxtion Group will seek to partner with locomotive and freight wagon original-equipment manufacturers, track construction companies, consulting engineers and project developers as it seeks to bring a new and powerful force to the African rail industry.

Goosen stated that, as leasing companies need to be more than financiers, Traxtion Leasing had the experience and understanding to bring product innovation to complement flexible funding solutions.

“With the support of the outstanding maintenance expertise in Traxtion Sheltam, it is a really exciting value proposition,” he noted.

Traxtion Group chairperson Brian Myerson further stated that the platform had the potential to provide an offering for the rail industry, as well as for the mining and industrial industries, as they sought efficient transport solutions.

PAIDF2 head Emile du Toit noted that, as a black-owned infrastructure fund, PAIDF2 believes that Traxtion Leasing and Traxtion Projects are “perfectly placed to support the South African government in its public–private partnership drive”.