Management & Operations

NABI Buys U.K.’s Optare Holdings Ltd.

Posted on January 22, 2000

In a role reversal between the two sides of the Atlantic, January, North American Bus Industries Inc. announced it acquired Optare Holdings Ltd., headquartered in Leeds, England. The total value of the acquisition is $35.2 million including assumed debt. Optare Holdings is the third largest city bus manufacturer in the United Kingdom. NABI said it will retain Optare’s current management. Peter Rona, founding chairman of NABI noted, “The transaction is based upon strong industrial and marketing synergies. Both companies have excellent products, innovative technologies and outstanding marketing expertise in their own traditional markets. I am convinced that adding Optare to NABI will create significant value for our shareholders.” Added Russell Richardson, managing director of Optare, “This relationship with NABI now provides us with fast-track access to new technologies and new markets.” Most notable among these is NABI’s designs and attendant worldwide licenses for the manufacturing technologies for its integral bus using a composite fiberglass-carbon body. NABI also has significant experience in producing low-emission, natural-gas powered buses. European operators are increasingly demanding such technologies as environmental pressures mount. The move also gives NABI an entry into the European market, something which it did not have even though it is owned by the First Hungary Fund and is listed on the Budapest Stock Exchange. Optare, on the other hand, has gained success with British fleet operators using its comprehensive line of integral body/chassis structured low-floor buses of its own design. A number of its models seem appropriate for the North American market; however, previously Optare had no viable means of accessing operators in this market, company officials said. Recently, Optare unveiled plans for a small, low-floor bus targeted at neighborhood, rural and specialty sectors. Scheduled for debut later this year, this vehicle will meet or exceed new standards outlined in the British Disability Discrimination Act. The DDA is expected to accelerate the purchase of new low-floor vehicles substantially in Britain over the next decade.

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