British Arriva Group snaps up

ONE OF Europe’s largest bus operators is to form a joint venture with Portugal’s private transport company, Barraqueiro.

Under the terms of the venture, the British Arriva Group, which operates transport networks in eight European countries, will operate 1,100 buses and coaches, 18 train units and 24 trams from 2006. It represents a total investment, including debt assumed from the rail network, of around 102 million euros.

The joint venture is expected to be signed and sealed in 90 days, following the green light from the Portuguese monopolies commission, known as the Portuguese Competition Authority.

Barraqueiro’s current bus business in the north and east of Lisbon generated 7.2 million euros, while its Fertagus Lisbon-based rail business brought in receipts worth 17.4 million euros. The joint venture will also have a 34 per cent stake in Metro Transportes do Sul (MTS), a Portuguese consortium that is currently constructing and planning to operate a new tram network for the south of Lisbon, from 2006 until 2032, at a cost of 1.7 million euros.

The joint venture will create jobs for more than 2,000 people in the bus sector and operate some 1,500 vehicles. Barraqueiro’s bus operation shares are to be transferred, along with those of MTS, to a holding company belonging to Arriva Lisboa in exchange for new shares in Arriva issued to Barraqueiro. Later, Fertagus shares will be snapped up for cash, while the overall net debt of the former companies, worth 7.3 million euros, will be liquidated. C.G.