Fortress Said to Explore Sale of Florida East Coast Railway

  • Asset manager said to work with Barclays, Morgan Stanley
  • Company was taken private in 2007 as part of $3.5 billion deal

Fortress Investment Group LLC is exploring a sale of Florida East Coast Railway Corp., the coastal freight operator it took private in 2007, according to people familiar with the matter.

Asset manager Fortress is working with Barclays Plc and Morgan Stanley to weigh options for Jacksonville-based Florida East Coast Railway, the people said, asking not to be named as the details aren’t public. The company is likely to attract interest from other private equity firms, infrastructure firms and railway operators, the people said.

Shares in Fortress rose as much as 3.9 percent in New York.

Representatives for Barclays and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Representatives for Fortress didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The holding company of Florida East Coast Railway -- Florida East Coast Industries Inc. -- was taken private in 2007 by funds managed by Fortress in a transaction valued at about $3.5 billion. The fund later spun off the railway operations into a separate company, leaving real estate, logistics and telecommunications assets under the FECI umbrella.

Fortress, based in New York, had about $70.2 billion in assets under management as of June 30, according to its website. Florida East Coast Railway can trace its roots back to 1895, when industrialist Henry M. Flagler bought the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Halifax, and Indian River railroads to create a transportation route along the state’s coastline. It now operates about 350 miles of freight rail.

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