National Express has bet on a recovery in the US school bus market with the purchase of an Ohio-based operator whose 3,300 yellow buses will increase the UK company’s fleet by 20 per cent.
The Birmingham-based bus, coach and rail operator will buy Petermann Partners for $200m cash on a debt-free basis from Macquarie Global Opportunities Partners, the private equity group.
National Express already owns two student transport companies in North America, and commands about 14 per cent of the US privatised school bus market. That makes it second only to Aberdeen-based FirstGroup, the leading operator by market share.Dean Finch (CEO of National Express) expects privatisation of the US’s approximately 530,000 school buses to be steady, if slow. “There is a sensible, meaningful number of buses – roughly 3,000 to 5,000 buses – a year that go from public sector to private sector, and we’re glad to take our share of that business,” he said.