MBO heralds TransBus deal by end of this week

MAYFLOWER lead administrator Nick Dargan has said he expects TransBus to be sold as a going concern by the end of this week, after the company’s coach-building arm was sold over the weekend in a management buyout thought to be worth £15 million.

In a statement issued last night, Dargan confirmed the sale of the division, Plaxton, to an MBO team backed by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone Private Equity, and led by Brian Davidson and Mike Keaney, the business’s managing directors.

He said the deal preserved jobs at its English operations, raising hopes that the sale of TransBus, which employs about 900 in Falkirk and Larbert, will lead to no further losses beyond the 136 made redundant in April.

"We are in advanced negotiations with a number of interested parties for the wider TransBus business and expect to complete a sale as a going concern during the latter part of [this] week," Dargan said.

The deal comes after months of speculation surrounding the future of the bus-maker and is the first sale in what is expected to be a busy few weeks for Deloitte as it whittles down the list of bidders for the rest of the TransBus bus-making business.

Venture capital firms Electra and Rutland are being linked with bids for the whole or part of TransBus. So too is Dexter Capital - which owns 5 per cent of Mayflower and is reported to be linked with Henlys, Mayflower’s 70:30 joint venture partner in TransBus. Cerberus Capital Management, the secretive US investment group, is believed to be on the verge of dropping out of the running but another bidder’s name emerged over the weekend - Greencool, a privately held Chinese consumer-goods company, which already has a bus business.

It acquired a stake in China’s Yangzhou Yaxing Motor Coach Company last year and the business also runs a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz, part of Germany’s Daimler-Chrysler.

With Mayflower’s previous management reportedly having rejected an offer of 160m for the business as recently as last year, the current 30m figure being touted illustrates just how far the business has fallen in the past few months.