Deal to sell Churchill port and rail line falls apart

A deal that would have seen the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) sold to a consortium that includes Fairfax Financial Holdings, pulse crop exporter AGT Food and Ingredients, and several dozen northern and Indigenous communities has fallen through, according to the company that currently owns the infrastructure.

Omnitrax reached an agreement-in-principle to sell the beleaguered port and rail line in May.

“Over the past several months we have been working with the consortium to finalize the sale of the HBR. Despite our best efforts to find common ground on certain key issues, it now appears that this transaction has fallen apart and that a sale of the HBR to this group may not be possible,” says a statement published by Hudson Bay Railway, a subsidiary of Omnitrax, on Tuesday.

“We would like to thank Fairfax Financial and Grand Chief Dumas for their good faith efforts to get a deal done. This outcome is unexpected and very unfortunate. We offer our apologies to all those who depend on the line,” says HBR.

The company says it “will continue to pursue any and all opportunities to sell the HBR and related assets…as expeditiously as possible.”

While Omnitrax has been looking to sell the railway and port for several years, the rail line to Churchill has been closed since May 2017 due to flood damage. The company says it issued a request for proposals (RFP) to initiate the repair process last week, noting “this development may jeopardize the opening of the rail line this season.”

The company also reiterates its position that it will not invest the tens of millions of dollars needed to fix the washed out track: “As we have previously stated, we are not in a position to fund the entirety of the repairs to the HBR in the absence of a sale agreement.”

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