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FIRSTGROUP PLC - Statement re: Robert Tchenguiz statement

FIRSTGROUP PLC

STATEMENT RE: ROBERT TCHENGUIZ STATEMENT

FirstGroup plc (‘FirstGroup’ or ‘the Group’) notes the statement issued today by Robert Tchenguiz regarding the Group’s half-yearly results announcement of 14 November 2019.

The Board has been clear, including in the recent half-yearly results announcement, that it is intent on realising value for all shareholders and is focused on actively managing the entire portfolio by all appropriate means. 

The Board believes there is significant value to be unlocked across the Group’s portfolio of leading public transportation businesses, and there are limited synergies between the divisions, particularly between the UK and North America. Realising greater value from the Group is the clear priority and this is best achieved through a rationalisation of the current portfolio. The Group has taken a number of important steps in relation to this strategy, as outlined in the half-yearly results announcement.

The Chairman and Chief Executive’s comments at the front of the half-yearly results announcement clearly reflect this position and are consistent.

David Martin, giving his view on the Group in his first Chairman’s statement since being appointed on 15 August, noted that “We will continue to actively evaluate all options across our entire portfolio to ensure we remain focused on the most appropriate and deliverable means to realise shareholder value.”   

Matthew Gregory, Chief Executive, stated that “We are intent on realising value for shareholders and will actively manage our entire portfolio by all appropriate means.”

We note Mr Tchenguiz’s comment concerning our North American assets and in particular the sale of a competitor. First Student and First Transit are valuable assets and well positioned in markets with profitable growth. The Board has been consistent and clear that the objective is to realise value and therefore were a credible and deliverable offer to be received for these or any other business in the portfolio then, of course, the Board would give that serious consideration.

We also note the comment made by Mr Tchenguiz about an announcement in November 2018 regarding the pension deficit. This is an incorrect assertion and no such announcement was made.

We also note the comment by Mr Tchenguiz regarding the potential to requisition a further General Meeting. Whilst this is the prerogative of shareholders, the Board believes it would be in the best interests of all stakeholders for us to get on with the portfolio rationalisation and realise value for shareholders without further distraction or delay.

Contacts at FirstGroup:
Faisal Tabbah, Head of Investor Relations
Stuart Butchers, Group Head of Media
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7725 3354

Contacts at Brunswick PR:
Andrew Porter / Simone Selzer, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7404 5959

Notes
Based on the most recent regulatory disclosures made to the company Robert Tchenguiz has a direct shareholding of 0.02% of the issued share capital together with additional economic interests from a spread bet (the terms of which have not been disclosed).

FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is a leading provider of transport services in the UK and North America. With £7.1 billion in revenue and around 100,000 employees, we transported 2.2 billion passengers last year. Whether for business, education, health, social or recreation – we get our customers where they want to be, when they want to be there. We create solutions that reduce complexity, making travel smoother and life easier.

We provide easy and convenient mobility, improving quality of life by connecting people and communities.

Each of our five divisions is a leader in its field: In North America, First Student is the largest provider of home-to-school student transportation with a fleet of 43,000 yellow school buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit management and contracting services, while Greyhound is the only nationwide operator of scheduled intercity coaches. In the UK, First Bus is one of Britain's largest bus companies with 1.6 million passengers a day, and First Rail is one of the country's largest and most experienced rail operators, carrying 345 million passengers last year.

Visit our website at www.firstgroupplc.com and follow us @firstgroupplc on Twitter.