International shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company is looking to buy the Italian open-access train operating company Italo from its parent organization Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), as reported by Bloomberg.

The Switzerland-headquartered shipping line, which was founded in Italy in 1970, is in exclusive discussions with GIP about a deal, according to those familiar with the matter, who told Bloomberg that “deliberations are ongoing” and that “there is no certainty they will lead to a transaction.”

Italian Daily newspaper Milano Finanza reported similarly in January that it expected an agreement to be made by March 2023, although it was denied by Italo at the time.

As per a Bloomberg report last year, US-based infrastructure investment fund GIP has been considering a sale of Italo in a deal that could value the train company at about €4bn ($4.4 billion), roughly double the amount that GIP acquired the train operator for back in 2018.

Italo launched as a competitor to the Italian state-owned railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in 2012. Its fleet includes 51 trains operating services that connect major Italian cities including Rome, Milan, and Verona.

The Italian train operator has been broadly successful since launching back in 2012. NTV, the first open-access operator in Europe, reached its fiscal break-even point for the first time in 2016, becoming profitable since then.

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In 2018, NTV was sold for €1.98bn to the international fund manager GIP; and in September 2018, German insurance giant Allianz acquired an 11.5% stake in NTV from GIP. 

In January of this year, MSC announced plans to terminate its 2M alliance with fellow shipping powerhouse AP Moller-Maersk, with both companies saying they wanted the opportunity to “pursue individual strategies”.