1. Completely agree with others ... CSX is not interested and also unlikely to receive regulatory approval.
2. The consensus view is that NS is also not interested in PAR and perhaps not even their PAS joint venture with Pan Am. I am not really sold on this. I think PAS could be very attractive to NS, perhaps Watco is the partner there.
3. There are a lot of viewpoints that seem to dismiss the value of the route between Portland and Ayer. I think this may be the single most valuable part of the network. Run through rights with minimal fees (if any) are extraordinary, especially inside a major U.S. market area.
4. Class I acquisition of this railroad is extremely complicated. It muddies the water for many of them in ways I'm not sure they would appreciate. Here's a brief run down on those possibilities:
BNSF: Non contiguous to existing territory. Possible run through agreement with NS. Very unlikely.
UP: Non contiguous to existing territory. Possible run through agreement with NS. Very unlikely.
KCS: Non contiguous to existing territory. Possible run through agreement with CSX. Existing joint venture with NS (Meridian Speedway). Most unlikely.
CSX: Regulatory impossibility. Even if only for PAR portion still impossible.
CP: Acquisition into Maine just completed. CP seems like the buyer who would be the most likely to acquire PAR segment of company.
CN: Withdrawal from Maine completed decades ago. Termination of Intermodal service in the last few years to Auburn via SLR. Acquisition greatly complicated by existing route map and short line ownership interests (NECR, G&W (SLR), VRS).
NS: Potential regulatory issues with PAR acquisition. PAS acquisition seems feasible.
-Conclusion: The most obvious scenario for a Class I acquisition would be a split of the railroad at Ayer. PAR to CP and PAS to NS. It is so obvious that it is very easy to overlook. No such thing as "too obvious" with this type of transaction.
The existence of SLR, EMR/NMR likely makes this a reasonable proposition for shippers in Maine.
5. Other operators: G&W appears to be an unlikely buyer due to their ownership of other interests. They may be excluded for regulatory reasons for the same reasons as CSX. They already own too many other lines directly adjacent or connecting to Pan Am.
Watco: Maybe but it seems like a very big bite for them. STB may have concerns about financial capacity.
Fortress Investment Group: Very serious possible buyer. Current stable history as a railroad owner. Strong track record in Florida and Maine. Comfortable with passenger rail considerations. Recent sale of CMQ not only shows a successful record but also disinvests Fortress of interests which might have created regulatory questions. From the point of view of the STB they would be a near perfect fit. They would also maintain the Class I neutrality of the railroad (at least for PAR and maybe for PAS as well).
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