Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter’s private equity firm, Souter Investments, has announced it is to sell two bus businesses in New Zealand.
It has reached agreement to sell Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services to Transdev, the international mobility provider.
The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval. Terms have not been disclosed.
With its fleet of 145 buses Howick and Eastern Buses currently operates 23 urban routes on behalf of Auckland Transport, whilst Mana’s fleet of 66 buses operates services on behalf of the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Both companies also provide school bus and charter services.
Bill Rae, outgoing Chairman of Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services, said: “Both Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services are recognised as industry leading urban bus operators, with first-class operational capabilities and strong long-term relationships with key stakeholders.”
Souter Investments acquired Mana Coach Services in 2007 and added Howick and Eastern Buses to its stable a year later. During Souter’s ownership, the businesses have fulfilled more than 95 million customer journeys and invested more than $63 million in new vehicles.
Mr Rae added: “Following significant capital investment and under the leadership of Sheryll Otway and Craig Chin, both Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services are well placed to continue playing a central role in the growth of sustainable, environmentally friendly public transport in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand’s two largest public transport markets.”
John Berthinussen, Investment Director at Souter Investments, commented: “Souter Investments has a long history of operating and investing in New Zealand, which is an attractive and easy place to do business, and where there are supportive environmental, demographic and economic conditions for growth in sustainable public transport. We wish Sheryll, Craig and their teams every success for an exciting future as part of one of the largest international public transport operators.”
Souter Investments retains ownership of Fullers360, which provides ferry and tourism services on Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.
Transdev Australasia CEO Luke Agati commented that the acquisitions provide a great opportunity to strengthen public transport connections in New Zealand’s two biggest cities where Transdev has existing rail operations.
"Transdev aims to offer commuters the best possible door-to-door mobility solutions, and the acquisition of Howick and Eastern Buses and Mana Coach Services will mean that we are in a good position to support our clients to improve connections between bus and train services in both Auckland and Wellington,” Mr Agati said.
Mr Agati confirmed that there are no plans to change the management structure or operations of either business, rather the focus would be on ensuring a smooth transition and leveraging best practices from local and global operations.
“We have a long history of engaging and partnering with clients and communities in New Zealand, and our goal for the long term is to build on the good work that is being done and grow the networks in both Auckland and Wellington over time,” Mr Agati added.
Bancorp Corporate Finance acted as lead financial advisers for Souter Investments, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts as legal advisers and KPMG provided tax advice. Deloitte supplied vendor due diligence services.
About Souter Investments
Souter Investments is one of the UK’s leading family investment offices specialising in private equity. Founded in 2006, Souter has invested in over 50 unquoted companies and currently has significant investments in approximately 25 businesses, acting either as the lead investor and as a co-investor with other financial sponsors.
Souter’s portfolio includes FinTech online and ecommerce interest-free-only credit provider, DivideBuy; Pet Network International, the leading pet supplies retailer in South East Europe; CoachHire.com, the technology enabled Mobility-as-a-Service business offering value-added end to end managed transport services to the education, corporate and leisure sectors; and Ashtead Technology, which offers fully integrated equipment solutions to the subsea and onshore environmental monitoring and inspection sectors.
In 2019 Souter Investments has also announced the sale of Alexander Dennis and Mobius Life, the latter subject to regulatory approval, following the 2018 sales of OnniBus.com and First Scottish Group.
For more information visit www.souterinvestments.com.
As an operator and global integrator of mobility, Transdev – the mobility company – gives people the freedom to move whenever and however they choose. We are proud to provide 11 million passenger trips every day thanks to efficient, easy to use and environmentally-friendly transportation services that connect people and communities. Our approach is rooted in long-term partnerships with businesses and public authorities, and in the relentless pursuit of the safest and most innovative mobility solutions. We are a team of people serving people, and mobility is what we do. Transdev is jointly held by Caisse des Dépôts Group (66%) and the RETHMANN Group (34%). In 2018, with 82,000 employees in 20 countries, the Group generated total revenues of 6.9 billion euros. In Australia and New Zealand, our 5,800 employees operate bus, light rail, rail, ferry and new mobility services across seven cities.
For more information visit www.transdev.com.au