Stagecoach buys NZ bus group

STAGECOACH, the fast-growing bus and rail operator, has snapped up another acquisition with the purchase of New Zealand's largest bus group for NZ111.6m (pounds 37m).

Stagecoach won control of Yellow Bus Company against French and local competition after submitting the highest bid to the Auckland Regional Services Trust.

Stagecoach already operates bus services out of Wellington on New Zealand's south island. The Yellow Bus Company operates on the north island.

Stagecoach's financial director, Keith Cochrane, said there would be plenty of opportunities for economies of scale through bulk purchasing for both operations.

Stagecoach is making a concerted effort to extend its interests in New Zealand and Australia. Currently this region produces only 1.5 per cent of Stagecoach profits.

But the group is currently looking at the potential for making a bid for the Melbourne tram and train network which is being privatised.

Yellow Bus, which produced profits of NZ$64.1m in the 12 months to June 30, operates 530 buses and has 930 employees.

Once the cash transaction is completed next week, it will bring the total number of Stagecoach buses to 12,500 making it one of the largest operators in the world.

Stagecoach has plans to invest in new equipment for Yellow Buses and points out that it has not increased the fares for eight years in its existing New Zealand operation.

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