Shareholders’ conflict might delay Rail Baltica, says CEO

Arguments between shareholders of RB Rail, the joint venture in charge of implementing the Rail Baltica high-speed train project, might delay the project and absorption of the EU funds, said RB Rail CEO Baiba Rubesa in an interview with the commercial LNT television on February 13.

She did not comment on the no-confidence vote in her by RB Rail Estonian and Lithuanian shareholders, saying that she was not present at the meeting and cannot comment on the vote of the shareholders.

At the same time, she said that she regularly faces interests of all three Baltic shareholders and their wish to interfere in decision making. One of the examples Rubesa named was the wish of shareholders to obtain information about specifications of certain procurements, which is a clear violation.

She said that the shareholders should work constructively in order not to delay the €5 billion worth investment project. Rubesa reminded that the EU funds 85% percent of the project, and each of the member states covers 5% of the expenses, but any delays could reduce the share funded by the EU.

At the same time, Rubesa voiced confidence that the project will be completed in 2026 as planned, even though some deviations from the deadline are possible. "It is common to have slight delays in any large transborder projects, but I don’t think it will be more than one or two years in Rail Baltica case," said Rubesa.

Meanwhile ERR reported on February 13 that European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc has warned that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania must seek an agreement on the Rail Baltica railway project or risk facing issues with EU financing.

As previously reported by LSM, after Estonian and Lithuanian shareholders expressed no-confidence against joint venture Rubesa on February 1, she suggested there may be unfair interests at play. She said she wouldn't step down unless deposed. The RB Rail supervisory board will meet on March 22 to discuss the issue.

Rubesa was elected to head the RB Rail management board in October of 2015 and her term will expire in October 2018.

RB Rail shareholders include the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian railway companies, UAB Rail Baltica Statyba, SIA Eiropas Dzelzcela Linijas and Rail Baltic Estonia OU.

RB Rail AS is the central coordinator for the Rail Baltic project for the construction of a high speed rail line from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border.

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