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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Investment firm acquires Patriot Rail Corp.

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San Francisco-based SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners, an independent investment management firm, said Tuesday it will acquire 100% of the capital stock of Patriot Rail Corp. The firm will make the purchase through its dedicated infrastructure investment vehicle, SteelRiver Infrastructure Fund North America LP.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the effectiveness of the control notice of exemption filed with the Surface Transportation Board, SteelRiver said.

In a related move, SteelRiver acknowledged its hiring of John Fenton as Patriot's new CEO once it completes its purchase. Fenton on Monday this week surprised many by announcing his departure from Southern California's Metrolink regional rail system, where he served as CEO.

Companies "have been after him for a long time. He's a talent that is hard to hold onto," observed Richard Katz, Metrolink's board chairman and a former state legislator, commenting to local media. "It's happened a lot sooner than I would have liked. Except for the family matters, I think he would still be here."

Fenton will succeed Patriot founder, Chairman, President and CEO Gary O. Marino, who will retire but provide consulting services to the new owners.

Boca Raton-based Patriot Rail oversees 13 short line and regional railroads in 13 states.

Chris Kinney, senior managing partner and CEO of SteelRiver Infrastructure Fund North America, commented: "Patriot is a highly complementary asset to our existing investment portfolio; we believe that the Company's scale and operating strategy will allow SteelRiver to capitalize on additional consolidation opportunities in the short line rail industry in North America." The transition to the new ownership is expected to be seamless, with no disruption in service to customers. Kinney added: "We highly value the operating and management team at Patriot and want to ensure that they continue to serve their customers who have come to rely on quality rail service."