EQT Infrastructure, one of the world’s largest infrastructure investors, has entered into an agreement with FirstGroup plc to acquire First Student and First Transit. Operations will reportedly continue as usual and uninterrupted with the same local teams and leadership.
In December 2019, FirstGroup based in Aberdeen, Scotland, announced a review of strategic alternatives regarding both First Student, the largest student transportation provider in North America with 43,000 school buses in operation, and First Transit to unlock shareholder value.
In March of last year, FirstGroup initiated a formal process to sell both divisions.
EQT is a global private equity firm and blue-chip infrastructure investor. According to a statement issued last week by First Student, EQT is reputable and experienced, with the deployment of $11 billion in equity in North America since 2012.
“This news reinforces that the steps we’re taking to grow our business are working,” added 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.”
Meanwhile, EQT announced that the acquisition is listed at $4.6 billion. EQT stated it is committed to building upon the success of First Student and First Transit by continuing to invest in organizational, operation and digital technologies.
“Additionally, EQT Infrastructure intends to help future-proof the company by investing in the electrification of its fleet and accelerating its transition to renewable fuel sources in order to support passenger health and reduce environmental impact,” the company said in a press release.
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The sale is subject to both FirstGroup shareholder and regulatory approval. It is expected to be completed in the second half of this year.
“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,” FirstGroup Chief Executive Matthew Gregory stated. “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.”