SCHENKER FINALLY REGAINS CONTROL OF UK JOINT VENTURE FROM LEP

SCHENKER FINALLY REGAINS CONTROL OF UK JOINT VENTURE FROM LEP

Schenker & Co. GmbH, a major German freight forwarder, has finally acquired full ownership of its London subsidiary more than 45 years after control of the company was handed over to Britain's Lep Group by the British government.

The purchase price was not made public.Lep, a major British forwarding company with vast international operations, acquired Schenker's British operation during World War II thanks to an act of Winston Churchill's government, said Ron Jackson, a legal adviser to Lep. The U.K. government, fighting against the German Nazis, confiscated German property during the war as "alien" property.

Lep received the German company's British operation, known as Schenker Ltd.

Schenker has been trying to re-acquire the company ever since, but Lep was reluctant to sell Schenker Ltd. because the company gave Lep access to Schenker's worldwide network.

"It was doing well and it got us into a different worldwide grouping," Mr. Jackson said. Schenker first acquired part of its former British subsidiary in 1975, according to information provided by the Frankfurt-based company.

Barbara Rauch, a spokeswoman for Schenker, said the company purchased the remaining 50 percent share as part of its European strategy ahead of the 1992 internal market.

Andrew Parkhouse, a spokesman for the National Freight Consortium in Britain, suspected the internal market was a key factor behind the purchase. But Mr. Jackson's comments suggest Schenker simply wanted to re-acquire full control for its British subsidiary.

Lep finally agreed to sell its 50 percent share in Schenker Ltd. as part of a rationalization plan, Mr. Jackson said. The two companies were actually competing against each other in the United Kingdom in a form of "in-house competition." The combination of Lep's management not wanting to devote time to competing businesses, and the fact that the "Germans were keen to buy it out" created conditions for the sale, he said.

Schenker Ltd. is expected to produce 120.5 million deutsche marks ($80.25 million) in sales this year. The company has 245 employees and a network of 11 offices throughout Britain. The company is involved in traditional freight forwarding activities.

The parent company is 77 percent publicly owned through the German Federal Railway. Stinnes AG, a subsidiary of Veba AG, a large multifaceted trading company, owns a 22.5 percent stake.