FirstGroup mulls all options amid Greyhound retreat

Shares of Aberdeen-based bus and rail giant FirstGroup plc rose on Tuesday after it said it is “examining all appropriate means to mobilise the considerable value inherent in the group.”

The company’s share price rose almost 3% to around 87p to give the firm a current stock market value of just more than £1 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

FirstGroup shares have fallen about 26% in the past year, the data shows.

FirstGroup has rejected two recent approaches from private equity firms and said at the end of May that its under-pressure CEO Tim O’Toole would step down with immediate effect.

Wolfhart Hauser was appointed executive chairman until a successor CEO is found.

FirstGroup has said it could consider selling its Greyhound bus division.

FirstGroup said Hauser would make the following remarks at its annual general meeting in Aberdeen on Tuesday: “I am pleased to say that the group’s overall trading performance in the first quarter has been in line with the plans we outlined at the end of May.

“In July we were able to begin the process of withdrawing from most of Greyhound Canada’s operations in the west of the country, which will address some of the long-standing issues in that part of the business.

“The board is examining all appropriate means to mobilise the considerable value inherent in the group, and to deliver shareholder value in a sustainable way while enhancing the services we provide to our customers and communities.”

FirstGroup is scheduled to announce interim results for the six months to September 30, 2018, on Tuesday November 13, 2018.

In May, Hauser said FirstGroup’s annual results “fell short of our ambitions” as the company reported a statutory loss before tax of £326.9 million “reflecting £277.3 million Greyhound goodwill and other asset impairments, £106.3 million TPE (TransPennine Express) onerous contract provision and other adjusting items.”

FirstGroup reported a 5% fall in adjusted pretax profit to £197 million for the year to March 31, despite revenue rising 13.2% to 6.4 billion.

FirstGroup blamed the performance of Greyhound in the United States for the fall in profit.