October 28, 2015 04:54 PM Eastern Daylight Time
SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Pacific Imperial Railroad, Inc. (PIR), a Delaware corporation, announced today the closing of a transaction resulting in the immediate acquisition of the majority controlling interest in PIR by the New York based conglomerate, Conatus Capital Group, Inc., represented by Ambassador Joseph Zappala, his legal counsel, Phillip Mindlin of Wacthell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Charles E. Fletcher, of the Fletcher Infrastructure Group and Arturo Alemany of Alemany & Associates; from the Nevada Group consisting of International Railroad Investment Fund, Inc. and Gold Mountain North, LLC, sellers represented by Charles McHaffie. Also, Arturo Alemany, principal of Conatus, has been confirmed as CEO and President of PIR.
Mr. Alemany has more than 25 years of experience in international business development and operations in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. He is President and Chief Executive Officer of Alemany and Associates, a company providing multi-cultural expertise in international contract negotiations, and has ten (10) years of prior railroad experience with Amtrak.
Donald Stoecklein, former CEO of PIR, who will remain as Chief Compliance Officer also stated that “We welcome Arturo’s experience with Amtrak and his leadership to PIR, and in his new role as CEO & President. His results-oriented approach and ability to think strategically, along with his vital contacts in Mexico and New York will play a pivotal role in helping us grow,” said Stoecklein.
Arturo Alemany indicated that he was “excited for Mr. McHaffie and the sellers, who were tenacious in seeking to re-establish the Desert Line between the United States and Mexico.” According to Alemany, “McHaffie should be credited for being the motivation behind the rehabilitation of the Desert Line.” The completion of the transaction will allow McHaffie to pursue other endeavors.
“I am sincerely thankful for the trust of Mr. McHaffie and the other selling shareholders in transferring this asset and providing me the opportunity to take this monumental project to the next level,” said Mr. Alemany. “I am excited to be part of PIR, and join in the reconstruction of the Desert Line to upgrade the existing 70.4 mile section of the rail line commencing at the Mexico/California border and joining with Union Pacific Railroad in Plaster City, California. The project is a major regional international economic development initiative that has the support of the best qualified investors, advisors and representation that will significantly improve the movement of goods along this section of track.”
Conatus and Alemany intend to work closely with Ambassador Joseph Zappala, former United States Ambassador to Spain, Charles E. Fletcher of the Fletcher Infrastructure Group in New York and New York City lawyer Philip Mindlin to reconstruct and develop the Desert Line railroad.
Mr. Alemany indicated that “the support of San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, and the South County EDC have been instrumental in assisting the rehabilitation of the Desert Line for the Cali-Baja Mega Region.”
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and its president Mr. Jerry Sanders awarded the “Cross-Border Collaboration Award” to Mr. Alemany and Mr. Fernando Beltran, President of Baja California Railroad, a California corporation, on October 16th at the Chamber’s International Tributes Awards Gala. This event provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding individuals and businesses that have made a significant impact in the bi-national efforts bridging US and Mexico’s economies.
Conatus’ acquisition of its stake in PIR follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between PIR and Baja California Railroad on June 22, 2015. The signing of the MOU took place at the MTS headquarters in downtown San Diego. Several representatives from public and private entities from both the U.S. and Mexico were present at this historic signing including Karen Landers, MTS General Counsel and former Consul General of the US in Tijuana Andrew Erickson. The MOU was signed by Fernando Beltran, President of BJRR; Donald Stoecklein, former CEO of PIR; and Arturo Alemany, Executive Board Member of PIR.
The signing of the MOU and the amendment to the Lease is historically significant, officially signaling the beginning of a new era of binational cooperation aiming to rehabilitate the entire freight rail system serving the Cali-Baja border region and the establishment of an intermodal facility allowing for optimization of freight movement between Mexico and the United States. This project comes at a time when existing freight corridors are strained and the bottlenecks at the commercial Ports of Entry in Tijuana cause unpredictable wait times for common carrier trucks. Not only will a unified binational rail line be a boom for the regional economy, but it will also help reduce traffic congestion and pollution. PIR has engaged the services of JL Patterson Associates to facilitate engineering and inspections on Desert Line as improvements are made.
The signing of the MOU would not have been possible without the collaboration of government representatives at the local, state and federal level in both countries. Also critical was the support of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerceand its President Mr. Jerry Sanders, whose ongoing efforts to strengthen the global competitiveness of the region helped with the goals established by PIR.