FirstGroup Looking to Sell Its Manchester Bus Division

FirstGroup Looking to Sell Its Manchester Bus Division
A First Manchester owned Volvo B7RLE with Wrightbus Eclipse Urban bodywork in Bolton.Macauley Pugh

FirstGroup Plc is looking to sell one of its largest regional bus divisions, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Monday evening. The company’s operations in Manchester will be sold in a cut-price deal, said to be for as little as 20 million pounds.

FirstGroup’s Manchester operations, once worth about £100m in annual turnover, are set to be sold in a cut-price deal according to industry sources.

Hundreds of buses across three depots in Bolton, Manchester and Oldham, will be sold to rival bus operators.

The group may sell its north west operations for as little as 20 million pounds, according to the report, which cited sources. Each site will be sold to different bus companies.

The company said it does not comment on market rumors or speculations.

A FirstGroup spokesman said: “We don’t comment on market rumours or speculation. We keep all bus services, depots and the business portfolio under constant review so we can be responsive to changes in market conditions.”

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  • Houston Ramm
    5th February 2019, 2:04 pm

    No real surprise that First would like to sell their Manchester operations, but the reported sale for £20 million, depending on what is actually sold with the businesses, would result in a huge write off. Nett fixed asset value as of March 208 is approx £63 million, and an accumulated deficit of £25 million has been funded by a large bank overdraft (£25 million as of March 2018) and large intra-group borrowings. Add to that a pension pot deficit last calculated to be £33 million that the group is going to take a massive hit if it does sell at that kind of value. And whoever takes it on is going to have to have very deep pockets as the current loss of £5.7 million before funding costs (2017-18 financial year) is not going to disappear overnight – it will be interesting to see who appears as a potential buyer.