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Owner of Greyhound says it's in advanced talks for sale of bus line

Bengaluru

FIRSTGROUP is in advanced talks with bidders for the sale of its Greyhound bus line, the British transport operator said on Thursday as it posted a bigger loss for the first half of the year due to a charge related to the business.

The Aberdeen-based company put Greyhound, a household name in North America, up for sale earlier this year as the bus line struggled amid growing pressure from low cost airlines.

FirstGroup, which ferries millions of passengers in buses and trains, posted pre-tax loss of £187.1 million (S$327 million) for the six months ended Sept 30, compared with a loss of £4.6 million a year earlier.

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The company said it booked an impairment charge of £124.4 million related to the Greyhound business in the first half of the year.

Greyhound, however, reported like-for-like revenue growth of 0.7 per cent in the first half, aided by growth in immigration at the Southern US border in the first quarter.

The company's adjusted pre-tax profit for the first half of the year dropped 31.7 per cent to £28.7 million, chiefly due to the adoption of a new reporting standard, it said.

FirstGroup, which is set to take over the West Coast rail franchise that links London, Manchester and Glasgow next month, said it raised its 2019-20 outlook to reflect a part-year contribution from the award. REUTERS