Edinburgh group leads bids for TransBus

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The Independent Online

Mayflower, the bus operator that went into administration this month, has received a handful of bids for parts of its business, including one from a consortium led by the Edinburgh investment bank, Noble & Co.

Hugh Nash, a director of Noble and one of Scotland's most prolific deal makers, said he has gathered a group of interested parties to bid for Transbus, Mayflower's subsidiary that makes London buses. Those thought to be involved in the consortium include David Murray, the chairman of Rangers football club, and Moir Lockhead, the chief executive of the transport operator First Group. Brian Souter, the multimillionaire behind the Stagecoach bus and trains empire, has also been named in connection with the initiative, but those close to him said he was not involved.

Mayflower collapsed into administration two weeks ago after a £20m deficit emerged in its accounts. Deloitte & Touche, the administrators, have begun a firesale of its assets, and have had a number of approaches ahead of their deadline of 21 April.

The bid being spearheaded by Mr Nash has come about amid concern north of the border that venture capitalists could buy Mayflower and asset-strip the business.

Transbus employs about 2,800 workers. Other operations are in Guildford, Surrey and in Scarborough. Sources in Scotland suggested Mr Nash had the backing of clearing banks, local management, suppliers and customers.

Mr Nash told The Herald newspaper earlier this week that he was not interested in breaking up Transbus. He said: "We are not going to sell it on - our whole modus operandi is to grow the business."