FirstGroup secures £300m UK financing

Aberdeen-based bus and rail giant FirstGroup plc on Friday provided shareholders with further updates on its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

FirstGroup said its liquidity has been further enhanced through a £300 million issuance under the UK government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme which means its “committed headroom and free cash” increases to £800 million.

The company said its Greyhound bus business in North America is “uniquely positioned to access a significant share of the $326m in CARES Act funding allocated to US states in support of intercity bus services.”

And FirstGroup said its executive directors and board have volunteered a 20% reduction in salaries and fees, “with salary reductions and deferrals across wider senior management.”

FirstGroup CEO Matthew Gregory said: “I am deeply saddened that the coronavirus pandemic has now tragically claimed the lives of colleagues from within each of our five divisions in North America and the UK.

“Their families, friends and co-workers have our heartfelt condolences and support, and the thoughts of everyone at FirstGroup are with all those affected by the global pandemic.

“I am extremely proud of our people who are working hard to support our communities during this time of crisis, both by maintaining critical transport services and by providing support in their communities to the most vulnerable.

“As an organisation we have taken rapid action to manage our costs, preserve cash and protect the group’s financial position in order to ensure we are able to deliver the continuity of transport that is so essential to governments, local communities and our customers both now and once the present crisis is overcome.

“The support we have received from governments and our customers is testament to the importance of the services we provide.

“The long-term fundamentals of our businesses remain sound, and we will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure that the group emerges from this unprecedented situation in the most robust position possible to deliver our strategic plans.”