May 19, 2020

FirstGroup set to withdraw from UK to focus on US operations

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FirstGroup set to withdraw from UK to focus on US operations

The leading British transport company, FirstGroup, is set to focus on its US operations after selling off its bus division and withdrawing from UK rail operations, according to The Guardian.

Following pressure from major shareholders, the group will sell off its renowned Greyhound coach line despite surging revenues, but also having experienced a £98mn pretax loss.

FirstGroup revealed that its core market moving forward will be North America, with its school bus operations First Student and First Transit making approximately 60% of operating profits.


With the activist investor Coast Capital, the biggest shareholder with a 10% holding, in the process of separating the US and UK businesses to replace the board after announcing First’s strategy as “extraordinarily destructive of capital.”

The company also runs Great Western Railway, TransPennine Express as well as Hull Trains. With Matthew Gregory, Chief Executive of FirstGroup, “looking at all options” for the transportation firm, it is expected that First’s interest in the UK railway sector could seen be at an end. “We have concerns with the current balance of risk and reward being offered,” said Gregory. “We await the outcome of the Williams review as it seeks to address these and other industry issues.”

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