FirstGroup plc announced on 22 July that it has completed the sale of its American subsidiaries First Student and First Transit to EQT Infrastructure, which was approved by FirstGroup shareholders on 27 May.
Commenting, FirstGroup Chairman David Martin said: “We are pleased to announce the completion of the sale of First Student and First Transit and a significant increase in the proposed return of value to shareholders this autumn. This delivers on our strategic objective and creates a focused and stronger business with a bright future. The vital role of public transport in the UK has never been clearer, and with the most supportive policy backdrop in decades coupled with our strong credentials, FirstGroup is in prime position to deliver on its goals with a well-capitalised balance sheet and an operating model that will support attractive dividends.”
FirstGroup Chief Executive Matthew Gregory added: “We have delivered this transformational sale which resolves the Group’s long-standing legacy liabilities, puts the Group in a strong position to benefit from its many opportunities, and releases £500m of value to return to shareholders. I would like to thank everyone in First Student and First Transit for the pivotal role they play in their communities. As part of the FirstGroup family for many years, they have gone from strength to strength, and I am confident that they will continue to flourish as part of EQT Infrastructure.”
First Student and First Transit will be reported as discontinued operations in the Group’s annual results to the end of March 2021, which will be announced on 27 July. The sale of the two operations leaves FirstGroup with one remaining American subsidiary, Greyhound. Changes to operations there have already seen Greyhound Canada’s services withdrawn in May of this year, with the operator blaming sustained ridership declines in Ontario and Quebec.
The firm’s Boltbus services are currently operated by Greyhound. The search for a buyer for the business is ongoing.