Stagecoach co-founder sells two bus businesses

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Howick and Eastern Buses was acquired by Souter Investments in 2007

The businesses invested a combined $63m in new vehicles during Souter’s ownership

Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter’s private equity firm, Souter Investments, has announced it is to sell two bus businesses in New Zealand.
The two companies, Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services, will be sold to Transdev, the first with a fleet of 145 vehicles operating 23 routes, the second a fleet of 66.

Both operate urban routes on behalf of Auckland Transport – in the case of Howick and Eastern – and Greater Wellington Regional Council in the case of Mana. They also provide school bus and charter services.

Souter Investments acquired Mana Coach Services in 2007, with Howick and Eastern Buses following a year later. During Souter’s ownership, the businesses have fulfilled more than 95 million customer journeys and invested more than $63m in new vehicles.

Bill Rae, outgoing Chairman of Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services, said: “Both Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services are recognised as industry leading urban bus operators, with first-class operational capabilities and strong long-term relationships with key stakeholders.

“Following significant capital investment and under the leadership of Sheryll Otway and Craig Chin, both Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services are well placed to continue playing a central role in the growth of sustainable, environmentally friendly public transport in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand’s two largest public transport markets.”

John Berthinussen, Investment Director at Souter Investments, commented: “Souter Investments has a long history of operating and investing in New Zealand, which is an attractive and easy place to do business, and where there are supportive environmental, demographic and economic conditions for growth in sustainable public transport.

“We wish Sheryll, Craig and their teams every success for an exciting future as part of one of the largest international public transport operators.”

Souter Investments retains ownership of Fullers360, which provides ferry and tourism services on Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.

Transdev Australasia CEO Luke Agati commented: “Transdev aims to offer commuters the best possible door-to-door mobility solutions, and the acquisition of Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services will mean that we are in a good position to support our clients to improve connections between bus and train services in both Auckland and Wellington.”