ComfortDelGro grows with $27m NSW bus operator acquisition

Transport giant ComfortDelGro is acquiring B&E Blanch, a bus service operator in New South Wales, Australia, for A$28.3 million (S$27.3 million).

It is the Singapore-headquartered group's sixth acquisition in Australia in the last 12 months - and its fifth in New South Wales.

Blanch, which has a fleet of 48 buses and coaches, operates as Blanch's Bus Co and Brunswick Valley Coaches. It runs scheduled routes and school bus services in the Ballina, Lennox Head, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby areas of northern New South Wales. It is also known for its charter services.

When completed next month, the Blanch deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will increase the group's fleet in New South Wales to 1,550 vehicles.

ComfortDelGro chief executive Yang Ban Seng said: "We have been actively pursuing investment opportunities in Australia and other countries, as we strengthen our foundation for the next phase of growth."

Mr Yang noted that ComfortDelGro has been operating in Australia for 14 years, and "it is a market that we are very familiar with".

"We are confident of its continued capacity for growth - not just in the cities we currently operate in, but new ones as well," he added. "As more opportunities present themselves, we will further broaden our footprint Down Under in the months and years ahead."

The latest acquisition follows a A$190.9 million purchase of the Buslink Group, one of Australia's largest privately-owned bus businesses.

Announced last October, that deal marked ComfortDelGro's single largest investment in Australia thus far.

It provides the group with immediate access to the Northern Territory and Queensland, and enables it to grow its existing bus operations in New South Wales and Victoria.

Other acquisitions in the last 12 months include the A$110 million purchase of Sydney's oldest privately-run family bus and coach operator, FCL Holdings; and the A$30 million purchase of National Patient Transport, a non-emergency patient transportation operator.

ComfortDelGro, which entered the Australian market in 2005, currently has a total fleet of about 4,300 vehicles comprising buses, coaches, taxis and ambulances.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2019, with the headline 'ComfortDelGro grows with $27m NSW bus operator acquisition'. Print Edition | Subscribe