|Bid||N/A x N/A|
|Ask||N/A x N/A|
|Day's range||1.1100 - 1.1100|
|52-week range||0.4000 - 1.3500|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.99|
|PE ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-dividend date||05 Jan 2011|
|1y target est||N/A|
(Bloomberg) -- FirstGroup Plc secured investor backing for the $4.6 billion sale of its U.S. school bus business, fending off a bid to block the deal by activist shareholders who said the price was too low.The sale to Swedish investment firm EQT Infrastructure was approved by 61% of votes at a virtual meeting Thursday, Aberdeen, Scotland-based FirstGroup said in a statement.FirstGroup’s top investor, Coast Capital Management LP, led the opposition to the transaction with EQT. While the firm, with a near 14% stake, had sought the breakup, it called for the terms to be substantially improved. Some smaller shareholders backed the call for the disposal to be revisited.In a statement after the vote FirstGroup Chairman David Martin defended the deal, saying it returned value to investors, addressed long-standing liabilities and made a substantial contribution to company pension plans. The company had earlier described the auction as robust and competitive.Shares of FirstGroup were little changed at 3 p.m. in London, after trading higher prior to result. The stock is priced at about the level it was prior to the sale announcement, prompting Coast founding partner James Rasteh to say in an email that the market “is not positively greeting the sale of crown-jewel assets,” while branding the transaction as ill-conceived.EQT, based in Stockholm, said it plans to make significant investments in the U.S. bus business, including the electrification of vehicles and digital upgrades.Yellow BusesFirstGroup agreed in April to sell First Student, the biggest operator of America’s iconic yellow school buses, serving 1,000 districts, in a move marking its retreat to the U.K. after years of investor pressure to realize the value of its global assets.EQT is also buying First Transit, an operator of municipal buses in more than 300 locations. FirstGroup’s Greyhound division, the iconic operator of cross-country buses, remains for sale.Coast responded to the sale announcement by saying the disposal price failed to match the multiples of comparable deals, and that FirstGroup had refused to engage with alternative buyers that it had brought forward.Its stance was publicly backed by No. 2 investor Schroders, with about 12% of the stock. A spokesman declined to comment Thursday, referring Bloomberg to earlier remarks in which it said it would vote against the transaction as undervaluing the bus businesses.FirstGroup defended the sale as the result of a process that was run by three of the world’s leading investment banks, spanned more than a year and saw the company engage with more than 40 potential buyers.Proxy advisers were divided in their views, with ISS, IVIS and PIRC urging shareholders to back the sale while Glass Lewis recommended that they vote against it, citing “an inadequate valuation and poor transaction timing.”(Updates with Coast comment in fifth paragraph, EQT in sixth, Schroders in 10th)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
FirstGroup has won a vote on the £3.3bn sale of its US operations following a bitter feud with its biggest investor. The rail and bus operator secured support from a majority of shareholders for the disposal of First Student and First Transit. despite a significant rebellion over the deal. The transaction was opposed by some 39pc of voting investors, led by Wall Street hedge fund Coast Capital Management. Coast said it will now consider its options and hit out at what it described as a "rushed, opaque, poorly timed, and uncompetitive sales process". It has previously threatened legal action against the board of FirstGroup. The activist has laid siege to FirstGroup for more than two years, first orchestrating the departure of chairman Wolfhart Hauser before pushing the company to abandon the sale of its UK bus arm and focus on selling First Student - the biggest provider of school buses in the US - and city operator First Transit. The auction, overseen by Rothschild, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, lasted more than a year and was delayed by the Covid pandemic. Coast renewed its campaign a few weeks ago, saying that the sale to Sweden’s EQT Infrastructure undervalued FirstGroup’s most profitable two businesses. Schroders, FirstGroup’s second-biggest investor, was also among the rebels. The operator’s top two investors own 26pc of the company. Influential proxy adviser Glass Lewis told shareholders to oppose the transaction. Despite its opposition to the deal, Schroders said it has confidence in chairman David Martin.
The US hedge fund leading the fight against FirstGroup's £3.3bn sale of its American divisions was initially willing to back the terms of the deal it now bitterly opposes, leaked documents show. Coast Capital Management, FirstGroup's largest shareholder, said it would support the sale of First Student and First Transit if four conditions were met in a letter on Apr 21, The Telegraph can reveal. A prospective sale would need to raise at least $4.7bn (£3.3bn), be fully financed by the acquirer, include a break fee of at least £10m and be subject to a shareholder vote, the letter shows. It was sent 48 hours before FirstGroup announced that it had struck a deal with EQT Infrastructure to sell the two businesses, in an agreement that satisfied these conditions. Coast justified its apparent change of heart by disputing the £3.3bn headline price. The sale of First Student, America’s largest operator of school buses, and First Transit, followed a campaign led by Coast to offload the FTSE 250 company’s most lucrative assets. Shareholders are understood to be disappointed that little more than a tenth of the proceeds will be shared with them, with the company opting to allocate the lion's share to plugging its pension deficit and other debts.