Bus company faces pounds 5m write-off

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The Independent Online
BADGERLINE, the Bristol- based local bus company, should find out in the next month whether it will have to write pounds 5.2m off its 1994 profits. This will happen if it fails to secure planning permission on its Bath bus depot, following a public inquiry.

A writedown would cause analysts to slash their pre-tax profit forecasts for the year from around pounds 10m to less than pounds 5m.

Argyll Group, owner of the Safeway supermarket chain, applied for permission to build a 25,000 sq ft store on the site in mid-1990, but is still awaiting a decision form the Department of the Environment. The sale of the site to Argyll depends on planning consent being granted.

An Argyll spokesman confirmed the group still wanted to develop the site.

A vocal group of local residents, called the London Road Residents' Association, has opposed the development on the grounds that it would cause traffic congestion.

In a complication, Tesco has applied for permission to build a store on the east side of Bath, which is also subject to an inquiry.

Only one of the stores is likely to be built.

Badgerline announced this Tuesday it was paying pounds 23m for PMT, a bus company in south Cheshire and north Shropshire.

It is paying for PMT with a mixture of cash, debt and equity. The vendors will receive pounds 8m of new Badgerline shares, pounds 7m of cash, and pounds 8m in loan notes. The shares came to the stock market in November at 115p. They were trading at 121p on Friday.

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