North American giant buys Falkirk bus manufacturer in £320m deal

Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), the world’s biggest manufacturer of double deck buses and leading British bus and coach builder, has been acquired by NFI Group, North America’s largest bus and coach manufacturer.

North American giant buys Falkirk bus manufacturer in £320m deal

Paul Soubry, NFI president and chief executive officer, and Colin Robertson, ADL chief executive.

The transaction creates an independent global bus and coach manufacturer with market leading positions in the United Kingdom, North America and Hong Kong plus a growing footprint elsewhere in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe.

It will also net Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter a bumper payout.

With Souter Investments holding around half of the business prior to the deal, the businessman stands to gain some £160m based on the sale price.

Souter, chairman of Souter Investments, said: “Having been involved with ADL since 2004, I have witnessed the transformation of the company into a truly international business with an exceptional product portfolio, a reputation for innovation and design and engineering excellence, and a first-class approach to customer service.”

The firms said ADL’s products and track record of entering and growing new markets will complement NFI’s product offering, diversify its business model and create a platform for international growth, accelerated technology development and innovation.

ADL will retain its own brand and chief executive Colin Robertson, who has led the growth and internationalisation of the company over more than ten years, and chief financial officer, Michael Stewart, will continue to lead ADL. They will also be tasked with driving NFI’s international growth ambitions.

ADL is one of the world’s leading independent bus and coach manufacturers offering Alexander Dennis single and double deck buses and Plaxton coaches with a history and heritage of design, engineering and manufacturing excellence that spans more than a century.

ADL employs over 2,500 team members with over 31,000 vehicles in service and operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

NFI is North America’s largest and most diversified bus manufacturer providing market leading transportation solutions.

With over 6,300 team members, operating from facilities across Canada and the United States, NFI provides accessible mass transportation solutions under the brands: New Flyer® (heavy-duty transit buses), ARBOC® (low-floor cutaway and medium-duty buses), MCI® (motor coaches), and NFI Parts™ (parts, support and service).

The two companies share similar cultures and values regarding quality and customer experience, as demonstrated in their prior joint venture in North America. They said there is a clear alignment in management strategy, market outlook, and electric vehicle adoption expectations.

They added that the objective of the tie-up is “not to cut jobs or rationalise, but to focus on collaboration and best practice sharing”.

“This is a transformational acquisition for NFI to become a global bus manufacturer,” said Paul Soubry, NFI’s president and chief executive. “ADL is the UK’s number one bus manufacturer and the number one global producer of double-deck buses, with an established international presence and is recognized as a leader known for innovative products and a commitment to quality and service.  We’re thrilled to have ADL join the NFI family in a transaction that we believe will drive our business forward by combining joint strengths in engineering, sales, new product development and manufacturing with NFI’s expertise in Operational Excellence, insourcing, fabrication and systems management.”

NFI Board Chairman, Brian Tobin said: “ADL is a company we know very well, and this acquisition presents a compelling opportunity to make NFI a more diversified and robust business while creating immediate value for our shareholders. NFI’s management team has a track record of delivering accretive acquisitions and prudent capital management which we expect to continue through the addition of ADL.”

ADL chief executive, Colin Robertson, said: “We are incredibly proud of the growth and success we’ve had building Alexander Dennis over the past 15 years, and I’m excited to have the ADL team join NFI – one great bus company joining another. We believe our consolidated businesses will enhance NFI’s market leading position in North America, while improving NFI’s offering through combined engineering expertise, supplier partnerships, electric vehicle know-how and aftermarket platforms. I look forward to continuing our solid progress at ADL and also championing further international growth for NFI in coordination with Paul and his leadership team.”

Formed in 2004, last year ADL generated revenues of £631 million, having grown at a compound annual growth rate of 10.5 per cent since 2010, and delivered more than 2,500 buses and coaches across its domestic UK market and multiple international territories.

ADL’s primary shareholders, including Colin Robertson and Michael Stewart, retain an equity interest the business, having been issued shares in NFI Group Inc. as part of the transaction.

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