Bus company sells off operations in Australia

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The Independent Online

National Express, the UK coach and bus company, yesterday said it had agreed the sale of three of its four Australian bus companies for a total consideration of A$70.5m (£27.5m), which it plans to use to pay down some of its debt.

National Express, the UK coach and bus company, yesterday said it had agreed the sale of three of its four Australian bus companies for a total consideration of A$70.5m (£27.5m), which it plans to use to pay down some of its debt.

NBC Queensland and Southern Coast Transit, which operates in Western Australia, will be sold to Connex Group, while NBC Victoria is to be sold to Ventura Motors, a private Melbourne-based operator.

The deals are subject to Australian regulatory approval, with completion expected around the start of next month.

National Express said the proceeds were in excess of the book value of the assets, £19m. It said it would review the value of its remaining Australian bus company, currently valued at £33m, by the end of the year.

Phil White, the chief executive of National Express, said: "Our remaining Australian bus operations, based in Sydney, are currently participating in the bus industry reform which is being carried out by the New South Wales government."

The majority of the sale proceeds, A$63.4m, will be paid in cash, with the remaining A$7.1m satisfied by passing on its finance lease obligations. National Express said the three businesses had contributed a turnover of A$85.7m last year and a normalised operating profit of A$7.3m.

Shares rose 3p to 676p on the news, giving the group a market valuation of £925m.

National Express said it was now on the look-out for acquisitions in its core businesses.

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