April 12, 2018

First Group rejects US takeover bid

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First Group operates the Great Western Railway franchise. First Group operates the Great Western Railway franchise.

THE board of bus and rail operator First Group has unanimously rejected a cash offer from US equity firm Apollo Management to buy the company, saying the offer “fundamentally undervalues the company and is opportunistic in nature.”


According to the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers, Apollo has until May 9 to either make a firm offer for the company or withdraw. However, the deadline can be extended with consent of the Takeover Panel.

 

First Group operates the Great Western Railway and TransPennine Express franchises in Britain and the South Western Railway franchise in partnership with MTR. It owns Hull Trains, an open-access passenger rail service, and it also operates the Croydon Tramlink service on behalf of Transport for London and the Heathrow Connect service with Heathrow Airport. In addition, First Group operates bus services in Britain, school buses in the United States, and owns Greyhound, the US long-distance bus operator.

In 2017, First Group recorded an 8.3% increase in turnover to £5.65bn and achieved a 12.7% increase in adjusted operating profit to £339m and a 34.4% increase in statutory profit before tax to £152.6m. The company has a net debt of £1.29bn.

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