FirstGroup CEO quits after investor demands
Bus and train group’s strategy has been questioned
Matthew Gregory has informed the FirstGroup board of his intention to step down as chief executive at the conclusion of the company’s AGM on 13 September.
His departure follows pressure from major shareholder Coast Capital. On Monday the 14% shareholder called for Mr Gregory’s resignation, along with two other board members.
Coast was critical of First group’s $4.5bn disposal of its First Student and First Transit bus operations in the US to Scandinavian fund EQT.
David Martin, chairman, will become interim executive chairman after the AGM until a permanent chief executive is appointed. A comprehensive search is underway.
Mr Gregory will work closely with Mr Martin to ensure a smooth handover process.
The announcement came as the group reported a £224.3m statutory operating profit from continuing operations (2020: loss of £215.2m).
Adjusted operating profits came in at £209m, down from £256.8m as revenue fell by almost £1bn to £6.8bn.
The board has announced its intention to increase the proposed return of value to shareholders from £365m to £500m (equivalent to c.41p per share).
Bus operator Stagecoach is to create 80 jobs at a new customer contact centre within the group’s Perth headquarters.