22 Aug 2011

Stagecoach hands £340m to shareholders

Stagecoach has risked the ire of passengers, green campaigners and trade unions with plans to return £340m to shareholders – including an £88m windfall for the brother and sister who founded the group.
Under the shareholder payout, worth 47p a share, Stagecoach's chief executive, Sir Brian Souter, will take away £51m and his sister, Ann Gloag, will earn just under £37m. The announcement comes just days after commuters learned that they faced the highest rises in rail fares since the industry was privatised in the mid-1990s.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT trade union, said: "If anyone wanted concrete evidence that transport franchising in the UK is a licence to print money, then here it is. This is a third of a billion pounds stripped out of transport services and dumped straight into the pockets of shareholders rather than reinvested in services." 
Revenues at the group's rail business grew by 8.4% in the three months to end July while turnover at Virgin Trains, which it co-owns with Sir Richard Branson, increased by 11.1%. 
Last year Stagecoach's rail division, comprised of its two wholly owned franchises, made an operating profit of £48.4m. However, its buses are Stagecoach's biggest profit driver, delivering an operating profit of £153.1m.

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