After months of rumour and speculation, the Kefford Group has found a buyer.
ComfortDelGro Corporation, together with joint venture partner (JV) Cabcharge Australia, has entered into a contract to acquire the fourth largest bus operator in Victoria, Australia for A$149.2 million.
The acquisition of the Kefford Group through ComfortDelGro’s 51 percent-owned subsidiary ComfortDelGro Cabcharge Pty Ltd (CDC) marks the culmination of a four-month long closed tender which drew keen interest from international and Australian land transport operators.
It also signals the beginning of a new chapter in ComfortDelGro’s Australian investment story – one that commenced in 2005 with the acquisition of the growing New South Wales’ (NSW) Westbus Group.
ComfortDelGro Managing Director and Group CEO, Kua Hong Pak, says the purchase represents a strategic acquisition for the group.
"It is a strong and well managed company with a good reputation in the market," says Pak.
"Kefford gives us a firm foothold in Victoria and together with our operations in New South Wales, we now have a strong presence in the two most populous cities in Australia - Sydney and Melbourne - and major regional areas in both States.
"Of course our ambitions do not end there. Our intentions are clear – we want to become a significant operator in the Australian bus sector."
Cabcharge Executive Chairman and Deputy Chairman of JV ComfortDelGro Cabcharge (CDC), Reg Kermode, says the purchase is a very valuable outcome for the JV, CDC, as it provides the group with a platform for major extension of our current operations in NSW.
"Since we have been running bus services in Sydney, the Hunter Valley region and Toronto, we have rolled out many new services and improvements," says Kermode.
"We look forward to working with the Victorian Government, fellow bus operators and the Bus Association of Victoria to support government initiatives to enhance public transport."
Two months ago CDC pulled out of a deal to buy Australian bus body builder Custom Coaches saying shareholders had resolved that, given the current world economic situation, "we should not proceed with this business in Australia".
The Group hinted then in both taxi and bus operations there were opportunities for acquisitions to support additional revenue growth.
At that time Comfort Delgro said they would be particularly cautious in ensuring any such acquisitions meet their investment criteria in relation to shareholder return.