McGill's Buses eyes Malta transport tender
West of Scotland-based McGill's Buses is poised to make a bid to run Malta's public transport service in a move that would double the size of the west of Scotland bus operator.
McGill's said it was "seriously considering" a bid after Arriva pulled out of running bus services on Malta and Gozo earlier this month.
The Maltese authorities are expected to call for expressions of interest this week.
McGill's said it would consider a bid, depending on the tender specifications.
The bus operator has already formed a consortium with "very prominent individuals and companies" in Malta to take its plans forward.
The move is being led by McGill's managing director Ralph Roberts, who is a former boss of Arriva Scotland.
'Very good fit'
He told BBC Scotland that there were about 360 to 370 buses in Malta public transport service, which is currently being run by state authorities.
He said: "The size of the contract would double the size of McGill's, which is something we can cope with.
"Malta would be a very good fit for us. The size is perfect and it is self-contained.
"As long as the authorities in Malta are realistic about the tender specifications, we are very serious about putting in a bid."
Malta has about 320,000 inhabitants and attracts about one-and-a-half million visitors a year. It relies heavily on bus services as there is no train or tram service on the island.
McGill's has an annual turnover of about £35m. The company doubled in size between April 2010 and March 2012 and doubled again after acquiring rival Arriva Scotland West in 2012.
It operates about 350 buses across more than 50 routes, mostly in Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.