MHA Moore and Smalley advises on bus company buyout

Our corporate finance team has advised on a major deal which has seen a south coast bus company with more than 400 staff acquired by its management team.

The firm provided financial due diligence and tax advice to the management team of Bournemouth Transport Limited (BTL) in its purchase of the business from French-owned parent company RATP Dev.

David Squire, managing director; Simon Newport, commercial director and Phil Pannell, service delivery director, are now equal owners of the business. The trio have more than 100 years’ bus industry experience between them.

BTL trades under the names Yellow Buses and Yellow Coaches and operates a fleet of more than 150 vehicles. It carries just under 15 million passengers a year across Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and East Dorset.

Vintage Yellow Buses Limited, an associated non-trading company, is also included in the sale.

The deal follows a decision by RATP Dev to review its operations in the UK. It will focus on its franchise operations in London as well as sightseeing and coach businesses in Bath, London and the North West.

David Squire, who was appointed as managing director of Yellow Buses in 2017, said: “This puts the local management team firmly in the driving seat. We are now masters of our own destiny.  We remain as BTL and there are no changes to the terms and conditions of our employees or pension schemes. We have injected fresh capital into the company and will be looking to invest in our staff, fleet and systems going forward.

“We are over 18 months into the plan that we started in 2018 and are in a strong place with passenger growth, improved income and a booming coach operation. As an independent company we will be quicker, more agile at decision-making and, therefore, better able to react to opportunities as they arise.”

Our deal team at Moore and Smalley was led by partner Jenny McCabe, corporate finance director Stephen Gregson and tax director Victoria Dadswell.

Jenny McCabe commented: “For any MBO to work, the management team has to be experienced, savvy and driven. David, Simon and Phil are exactly that and they also have a very committed staff around them. It’s great to see a management team with such a passion for their industry making the step up to business ownership. They have clear plans for future growth and investment and we wish them well as they embark on the next stage of their journey.”

Cyril Carniel, RATP Dev’s Vice President Northern Europe, said: “Bournemouth Transport has been transformed under the leadership of David and his team. We are delighted to have concluded the deal with the management team to ensure that the company is locally owned and managed.” The MBO team were advised by Brett Cooper, Lydia Ward and Patrick Boyers at specialist transport solicitors Backhouse Jones, together with Weightmans for legal due diligence. RATP Dev UK was advised by Osborne Clark in Bristol.