FirstGroup hires ex-Arriva CEO Martin as chairman

David Martin

Aberdeen-based international bus and rail giant FirstGroup plc said on Thursday it appointed former Arriva CEO David Martin as its chairman with immediate effect.

Martin had been the favoured candidate of FirstGroup activist shareholder Coast Capital a few months ago — but Martin initially missed a deadline to confirm his plans to stand for the post.

“His appointment marks, clearly, much needed change, and the beginning of a new and productive chapter in the company’s history, as mandated by investors,” Coast said.

The appointment follows Wednesday’s news that FirstGroup’s First Trenitalia partnership has been awarded the contract to operate the lucrative train services on the Glasgow-London West Coast Main Line from December 8, 2019 until 2031.

FirstGroup said of Martin: “During his tenure, Arriva was transformed into a multi-national transport services group through a number of key strategic mergers and acquisitions.

“In September 2010 the company was purchased by Deutsche Bahn, one of the world’s leading passenger transport and logistics companies.

“David remained as chief executive throughout this period, before stepping down in January 2016.

“He remained on the Arriva board advising on a range of issues until May 2017 …”

David Robbie, FirstGroup interim chairman and senior independent non-executive director, said: “Having followed a rigorous and formal process, and considered the views of our shareholders, we have secured an extremely experienced, high calibre and independent candidate with an extensive track record in surface transportation.

“David is a strong leader with significant experience in business turnaround and performance improvement within the sector and more broadly.

“He has extensive knowledge of international transport contract businesses and in delivering strategic transactions, including disposals.

“His expertise and focus will be invaluable in driving forward the plans to rationalise the group’s portfolio and create value for shareholders.”

Martin said: “I am pleased to be joining FirstGroup at a key point in its development.

“Undoubtedly there are challenges which we must overcome, but I am confident in the opportunity that exists to unlock the considerable value within the group.

“By ensuring the timely delivery of the most effective and appropriate means of value creation, I look forward to playing a pivotal role in achieving a successful outcome in the interests of all stakeholders.”

Martin is currently a non-executive director of McGill’s Bus Service Ltd in Scotland and has confirmed that he will relinquish that role.

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.