Arriva set to expand Dutch bus operations

ARRIVA, the transport group, yesterday flagged the prospect of further expansion in Europe, as it unveiled record pre-tax profits fuelled by recent bus acquisitions.

Gordon Hodgson, chief executive, said Arriva was in talks with an unnamed party about expanding its Dutch bus operations and was upbeat about a deal being struck soon.

"Talks are under way and I would be disappointed if something did not happen as a result," said the Arriva boss. He said the finance department had been busy lining up pounds 100m worth of financing to fund expansion.

Arriva, which recently changed its name from Cowie Group, fleshed out its expansionist ambitions after reporting record year pre-tax profits of pounds 101m, a rise of 24 per cent.

Turnover at the bus to motor retailing group rose to pounds 1.42bn and the annual dividend was 13.5p per share. Shares rose 13p to close at 376.5p.

The main aim for the coming year was to build operations in Europe after becoming "one of Europe's top five private bus operators", Mr Hodgson said. A move into rail for the first time was a natural transition.

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