Today, FirstGroup announced it has entered into an agreement for the sale of First Student and First Transit to EQT Infrastructure. The proposed sale brings together North America’s market leaders in school and public transportation with one of the world’s largest infrastructure investors.
First Student and First Transit operations will continue as usual and uninterrupted with the same local teams and leadership.
“We are pleased to have agreed on the sale of First Student and First Transit in a transaction which recognizes their strategic value. Both are resilient, high-quality businesses with strong prospects for returning to normal levels of service following the pandemic,” said FirstGroup
Chief Executive Matthew Gregory. “Our colleagues at First Student and First Transit have built excellent relationships with their customers over many years, and we are proud of their commitment and expertise. I would like to pay tribute to everyone in these businesses and acknowledge the vital role they play in their communities, both now and for many years to come.”
EQT is a global private equity firm and blue-chip infrastructure investor. They are highly reputable and experienced and, as such, took a long-term view to look beyond the immediate effects of the pandemic. They have deployed $11 billion in equity in North America since 2012.
“This news reinforces that the steps we’re taking to grow our business are working,” said First Student President Paul Osland. “While challenging, the pandemic has illustrated that we are able to maintain operations and generate stable returns even in the most difficult operating conditions. Our full focus continues to be on providing safe, reliable, industry-leading service in the communities where we operate.”
Both First Student and First Transit are market-leading businesses that benefit from substantial scale, best-in-class operating track records, a forward-looking focus on innovation, and highly experienced management teams. Both First Student and First Transit enjoy industry-leading contract retention and customer satisfaction ratings.
“This is a great business that has established a strong and profitable platform which positions us for sustainable growth over time. We will continue to invest in new opportunities and technologies that set us apart from our competitors,” said First Transit President Brad Thomas. “Through it all, our communities and customers will remain at the heart of everything we do.” FirstGroup first announced a review of strategic alternatives regarding First Student and First Transit as a means to unlock shareholder value in December 2019. In March 2020, FirstGroup initiated a formal process to sell both divisions.
The sale is subject to both FirstGroup shareholder approval and regulatory approval. It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021.