Stagecoach starts out on route to stock market

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STAGECOACH, the bus company, is coming to the stock market with a price tag of pounds 133m. The group, which runs 3,300 buses worldwide, is floating at 112p a share.

The issue will raise pounds 20.6m of new money, which the company says will be used to cut borrowing and fund acquisitions.

The management - led by the brother-and-sister team of Brian Souter and Ann Gloag - will hold on to 50 per cent of the company. Only 28 per cent of the enlarged share capital is being issued. Two-thirds of the 33.5 million shares on offer have been placed firm with institutional investors, leaving 11.7 million shares for the public.

Stagecoach bus services operate in Scotland, North-west England, the Midlands and the South-east. Mr Souter said at the launch of the pathfinder prospectus there were huge buying opportunities among the 32 local authority bus companies still operating and in London. The Government plans to privatise all the remaining municipal bus services.

The company also runs buses as far afield as Malawi, Kenya and New Zealand.

Mr Souter, a former bus conductor, started the business in 1980 with his sister, who was a nurse. Start-up capital came from a redundancy cheque received by their father, a bus driver.

RJB Mining, one of the UK's largest private coal mining companies, plans a stock market flotation in early summer, writes Mary Fagan. The flotation, expected to value the company at more than pounds 100m, will allow RJB to raise funds for expansion.

The company hopes to take over at least five of the mines earmarked for closure by British Coal. RJB, which had an operating profit of pounds 16.4m last year on turnover of almost pounds 74m, employs 800 people.

Clydesdale, the Glasgow electrical retailing group, has also announced plans to float in the early summer.