Geert : Lineas is one of the largest private rail freight and door-to-door logistics solutions providers in Europe. We employ more than 2,000 people and are headquartered in Brussels with sites in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.
As the CEO of Lineas, my main mission is to lead my company towards a higher purpose. There are three components to this. Firstly, convincing companies to shift their transport from road to rail – for climate, mobility and profitability reasons. Secondly, organising the entire company so that it is capable of executing this strategy. And, most importantly: give a purpose to the energies of our passionate people.
In 2009, our company was a division of the Belgian State Railways (SNCB) and was headed towards bankruptcy. We drastically restructured and carved the activity out of SNCB into a separate legal entity.
In 2015 we were EBITDA positive but needed to adapt to the open market conditions, and strengthen our balance sheet. Lineas capital was opened up to private financial investments. Not many investors have shown interest – it was Argos who implemented the privatisation by injecting equity and becoming the major shareholder.
Since Argos came on board, our main accomplishments have been transforming a company from a Belgian Railway Company into a European rail logistics provider. This has resulted in both revenue and EBITDA growth.
SNCB chose Argos as they were able to manage the full complexity of the deal, developing a positive relationship with the selling shareholder SNCB and having the confidence to invest in a not-so-common company. Our management was extremely relieved that we found a good solution for the future of our company.
Gilles : From the time we have started to analyse the situation in 2015, we have established a strong and transparent relationship with the management to properly understand the group’s challenges, the expected transformation goals and the solutions to address a complex transaction environment. At that time, we were already fully convinced about the opportunity to support the team in its clear strategy: become a private and robust logistic solutions provider, strongly contribute to modernize the rail freight activity in Europe as well as place the clients and needs at the centre of developments.
Geert : As a shareholder who believes in the future of our company, Argos provided us with active support – for me personally, for the management and for the company. It’s a trusting relationship: if there are issues, they jump in and back us, finding solutions and always maintaining a very personal and empowering relationship. This fits well with our company culture and is a real asset to the team.
Gilles : For us each challenge or opportunity encountered by Lineas is treated by a dedicated team made up of management supported by Argos members. So far, we have worked together on any topic where our support might be necessary such as business, people, organisation, growth, innovation, finance and diversification”. It really helped us working this way.
Geert : Argos really took the time to understand our vision and the direction we wanted to go in with the company. And they support us in this mission. So in addition to the formal meetings, there are also many personal interactions between the management and the Argos team, we listen to each other.
I used to think private equity was purely cash focused, not really caring about the people behind the cash, but the Argos team proved the contrary. Of course they look at the figures, but more than that, they look at the people behind them and how they can help them.
Gilles : The activity of Lineas is unique and goes beyond numbers.
Geert : Having Argos on board is a real opportunity for any company to develop. And frankly without them we would not be where we stand today.