FirstGroup Chief Exec to stand down

Matthew Gregory denies claims his resignation is related to pressure from major shareholder

Matthew Gregory is to step down as FirstGroup Chief Executive and as an Executive Director of the Group. He will be leaving his posts at the conclusion of the Group’s AGM on 13 September 2021. Accordingly, Matthew will not be seeking re-election at the AGM.

His resignation follows reports that Coast Capital had pressured his resignation. The North America-based hedge fund was reported to have been against the Group’s sale of two of its US-based operations (First Student and First transit), which was announced in April this year and has now been finalised. The sale received support from the majority of shareholders. Matthew Gregory has been quoted in the press as saying his decision to step down had nothing to do with the opposition from Coast Capital.

David Martin, Chairman, will become interim Executive Chairman for FirstGroup at the conclusion of the AGM on 13 September until a permanent Chief Executive is appointed. A search is underway to select a new Chief Executive for the Group.

“I have decided the time is right for me to move on to new opportunities” – Matthew Gregory

Matthew Gregory said: “Having delivered the substantial portfolio rationalisation strategy and with FirstGroup now positioned to emerge from the pandemic as a resilient and robust business, I have decided the time is right for me to move on to new opportunities. In this landmark year the Group has more than risen to its challenges. We have delivered on our strategic objectives, protected our financial stability, and supported our communities with essential services while helping to shape the future of public transport in the UK. It has been my honour and a privilege to lead this great business and its many thousands of employees who are dedicated to serving their customers every day.”

FirstGroup reported a profit before tax of £115.8m in the year ending 27 March 2021, beating last year’s loss of £299.6m. Its profits were boosted by a sale of £71.1m of Greyhound properties and a £95.7m reversal of prior year impairments for SWR and TPE rail contracts.

FirstGroup continues to seek a buyer for its Greyhound operations in the US.

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