FirstGroup may sell First Student and First Transit, building on a plan that includes the sale of Greyhound. Photo courtesy First Student

FirstGroup may sell First Student and First Transit, building on a plan that includes the sale of Greyhound. Photo courtesy First Student

ABERDEEN, U.K. — FirstGroup PLC announced on Monday that it is considering selling its North American school bus and public transportation companies, building on a plan that includes the sale of Greyhound.

FirstGroup, which is the parent company of First Student, said in a news release that after review of the company’s portfolio, its board of directors appointed advisors to “explore all options in respect of our North American contract businesses, First Student and First Transit, including a potential disposal.”

The company said that it is moving ahead with its sale of Greyhound, which it announced in May, and is creating an efficiency program for First Bus, its U.K.-based intercity bus service. It expects to see the results of that strategy in the numbers for the second half of 2019 and afterward. As a result, the company’s board of directors concluded that “greater value will be achieved by delivering this margin enhancement prior to any launch of a formal sale process.”

As School Bus Fleet previously reported, FirstGroup made the move to sell Greyhound and First Bus,  in an effort to focus on its pupil transportation and public transit brands. The company noted in a statement announcing that sale that   in 2019, First Student and First Transit had collectively generated 60% of its operating profits and “share increasingly similar attributes and opportunities to grow and create value.”

Bloomberg reports that activist investors have been calling for a breakup of FirstGroup’s companies since it turned down a takeover bid from American private equity firm Apollo Global Management last year, and that FirstGroup recently revealed it suffered a loss in the first half of the year.

First Student said in a statement on the possible sales plans that it will continue to focus on providing safe and reliable transportation.

“This is a great business that has established a strong and profitable platform which positions us for sustainable growth,” the school bus company added in the statement.

First Student also said that news of the potential sale “only reinforces that the strategies we’re deploying to develop and grow our business are working.”

“We will continue to invest in new opportunities and technologies that set us apart from our competitors,” First Student added in the statement. “Through it all, our communities and customers will remain at the heart of everything we do.”  

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