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(Reuters) -British transport firm FirstGroup reported a bigger annual profit on Tuesday and resumed dividend payments, as passenger numbers improved on its bus services after the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Workers and tourists are slowly returning to the city, helping transport companies to forecast further recovery in earnings.
FirstGroup, which turned down a takeover approach from global infrastructure I Squared Capital last week, has been attracting buyout interest, after selling its North American operations last year and offloading its iconic Greyhound intercity bus brand.
The company said its First Bus passenger numbers stood at 76% of pre-pandemic levels, and it expects the numbers to increase further in the current year despite rising inflationary pressures.
The bus and rail operator, which signed a National Rail Contract with the Department For Transport for its Great Western Railway train operating company, announced a dividend of 1.1 pence.
The firm, which sees "significant" further progress in its 2023 earnings, reported an adjusted operating profit of 226.8 million pounds ($276.27 million) for the year ended March 2022, compared with a profit of 220.2 million pounds a year earlier.
($1 = 0.8210 pounds)
(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)