Souter invests in Finland
Souter Investments, the family investment office of Stagecoach founder Sir Brian Souter, has taken a majority stake in OnniBus.com, the Finnish intercity express coach business. The multi-million pound investment comes at a time of growth for OnniBus.com, as it focuses on developing its core business of intercity express coach travel.
OnniBus.com will use the Souter funds to develop a fresh national network of express coach services and acquire a fleet of new high specification coaches. It will also use the money to invest in its operational, web and customer service infrastructure; increase awareness of the refreshed OnniBus.com brand and restructure its existing services as part of the new network roll out. The first phase of OnniBus.com’s development will result in the creation of around 60 new jobs in Tampere and across Finland. Management, HQ and operational posts are currently being filled and driver recruitment will commence in the near future.
The investment has been made by Highland Global Transport, Souter Investments’ transport arm. Souter has taken a majority stake and all existing shareholders and managers are staying with the business. Highland Global Transport’s Global Transport Director, Roger Bowker, has joined the Board of OnniBus.com as Executive Chairman. Roger previously had a long international career with Stagecoach Group and as a co-founder and CEO of PolskiBus.com, the Souter Investment owned Polish intercity express coach operator.
Roger Bowker said, ‘Our experience in the UK, USA, Canada and Poland has demonstrated that there is a demand for fast, modern and innovative intercity, express coach travel. With the introduction of new products and services, offering the consumer more choice, we can grow the total public transport market. We believe that by investing in the OnniBus.com product, expanding our network of services and developing our web and customer service proposition we can persuade people to leave their cars at home and choose more environmentally friendly, sustainable public transport. I am convinced that that, in time, our passengers will include everyone, from students to senior citizens and from leisure travellers to businesspeople and commuters.’
Sir Brian Souter said, ‘We are delighted to add OnniBus.com to our portfolio of global transport businesses. We believe there is a fantastic opportunity in the Finnish intercity express coach market and we see enormous potential in the OnniBus.com business as it seeks to establish a market-leading position.’
MD of OnniBus.com Pekka Motto, said, ‘The investment represents a landmark for OnniBus.com. It will provide not only the support of a strong balance sheet and access to substantial funds for growth, but also access to Souter’s invaluable experience, knowledge and expertise in the public transport industry.’
Background – Souter Investments
Souter Investments was launched in December 2006 and has since acquired an impressive transport and non-transport portfolio, whilst retaining Stagecoach Group PLC as a core holding.
Bus and coach investments include Mana Coach Services of Wellington and Howick and Eastern of Auckland in New Zealand, both offering commuter and urban bus services. In Poland it is behind the launch of the intercity express coach service PolskiBus.com and in Australia it has supported Alexander Dennis in its acquisition of Custom Coaches – the country’s second largest bus and coach manufacturer.
Other investments include: Turkish ferry operator, Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri; a stake in Virgin Mobile Latin America, a virtual mobile network operator, and closer to home; First Scottish Group, Scotland’s largest legal and property search provider; Nutrafeed, a nationwide by-product and waste recycling management business and Baywater Healthcare, a healthcare services business operating in the UK and Ireland.