August 3, 2023Sarah Thompson, Kanika Sood and Emma Rapaport – Financial Review ––––––

After almost a year on the auction block, Sydney’s largest privately owned coach charter company has been sold to electric bus outfit TrueGreen.

Street Talk can reveal the Michel Van Maanen-runTrueGreen will acquire North Sydney Bus Charters in a deal that values the group at as much as $100 million, after securing funding for a big roll-up play. That’s expected to mean more acquisitions in what’s a fragmented industry before the end of the year, sources said. 

As Street Talk reported in March, TrueGreen has been in discussions with investors for funding as it considers listing on the ASX. Its brands distribute, manufacture and assemble zero-emissions buses. Its Nexport subsidiary was the largest electric bus supplier to the NSW government.

The purchase of North Sydney Bus Charters, owned by Sydney businessman Scott Riley,is slated to be the start of mass electrification of buses in the city. The sales process wasbeing run by PKF Corporate, which was pitching the company as a premium charter hire service. It has a fleet of 225 luxury and standard coaches, and mini-coaches, performing charter work for schools, corporate events and the like, as well as shuttle services. 

Riley, a former tennis pro and coach who started the business to run school children toand from tennis centres in 2002, was looking for a deep-pocketed investor to take a stakein the company and help fuel further growth plans, prospective buyers were told duringthe sales process.

Last year, the business was understood to be making about $50 million in revenue, withan EBITDA margin of about 33 per cent. The revenue was said to have been up 15 percent a year over the past five years, and there were healthy forecasts of similar increasesin the future.

The deal comes as Goldman Sachs begins testing appetite in Ventura Bus Group, which makes $80 million a year on the earnings lime. In March, Kelsian paid $US325 million ($487 million) for bus company All Aboard America! Holdings, valuing it at 6.9-times normalised EBITDA recorded in the year to December.