Stagecoach seals pounds 230m takeover of Swebus

Stagecoach, the acquisitive and aggressive bus and rail operator, yesterday served notice that it planned to expand further into Europe as it sealed the pounds 230m takeover of the state-owned Swedish bus group Swebus.

Chairman Brian Souter said that the acquisition of Swebus, the biggest bus operator in the Nordic region with a fleet of 3,450 buses and 6,200 staff, would provide a strong platform for further expansion in the area and other parts of Europe.

The group, which controls 18 per cent of the British bus market and operates the South West Trains franchise into London's Waterloo station, aims to increase turnover four-fold to pounds 2bn by the end of the decade.

Stagecoach is paying pounds 115.6m in cash for Swebus and taking on debt and accrued interest of pounds 117m. The deal follows its controversial pounds 825m acquisition of the train leasing company Porterbrook last month from a management buyout team.

Swebus, owned by the Swedish national railway, made pre-tax profits of Swedish kroner 111m (pounds 9.8m) last year on turnover of SKr3.2bn and controls 30 per cent of Sweden's bus market, but only 3 to 4 per cent of the Nordic markets outside Sweden.

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