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Stagecoach begins to unload.

Transport giant Stagecoach has sold the New England division of its under-performing Coach USA subsidiary in a pounds 24.5m deal.

Perth-based Stagecoach, which runs bus services throughout the North-East, has sold the unit - five bus businesses and 255 vehicles - to Peter Pan Bus Lines, the largest privately-owned bus company in the US.

The pounds 24.5m cost is made up of pounds 20.2m in cash and two sets of loan notes worth a total of pounds 4.3m and repayable after three years and four years respectively.

Stagecoach has said the sale will not result in a material gain or loss on group accounts and that the proceeds will be used to pay down group debts.

The City reacted favourably. Shares in Stagecoach rose 7.8pc in early trading yesterday as investors gave a thumbs-up to the company's disposal plans. Chris Paul, analyst at Brewin Dolphin, said the sale was good news for Stagecoach.

He said: "They need to convince people that they can get Coach USA turned around and either sold off or made profitable. As far as investors are concerned, it's just a start but it's a good start."

Coach USA was badly hit by the downturn in tourism following the terrorist attacks in September 2001.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 3, 2003
Words:210
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