FirstGroup PLC chief executive quits after activist investor pressure


Gregory joined FirstGroup in 2015 as chief financial officer and become chief executive in 2018.

() PLC chief executive Matthew Gregory announced he is to leave the bus and train group just a day after activist investor Coast Capital called for him to resign.

Gregory, who will stand down after the forthcoming AGM, said: “Having delivered the substantial portfolio rationalisation strategy and with () now positioned to emerge from the pandemic as a resilient and robust business, I have decided the time is right for me to move on to new opportunities.”

Coast Capital, a hedge fund that has a 15% stake, has been a constant critic of FirstGroup’s strategy and in particular the recent £3.3bn sales of two US businesses, First Student and First Transit to Swedish infrastructure investor EQT.

Gregory joined FirstGroup in 2015 as chief financial officer and become chief executive in 2018.

David Martin will take on the role of interim executive chairman while FirstGroup looks for a replacement.

The FTSE 250 group confirmed today that it would return £500mln or 41p per share to shareholders following the sale of the US businesses.

Buses and trains have been among the sectors worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with the rail franchise system scrapped and the train operators now contractors running services for the government on a fee.

FirstGroup’s revenues for the year to March 2021 fell 12% to £6.85bn, which included rail subsidies from the UK government of £2.9bn, while revenue under contract primarily for the sold US businesses chipped in a further £2.1bn.

Profits for the year recovered to £116mln (loss:£300mln), which included operating profits of £102mln from the ongoing operations of UK bus and rail and US coach business Greyhound



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