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FlixBus owner hitches ride with Greyhound as FirstGroup exits

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FILE PHOTO: Buses are parked at the Greyhound bus station, in El Paso
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(Reuters) - British transport company FirstGroup has sold its U.S. intercity coach network, Greyhound, to Germany's FlixMobility after more than two years of trying to offload the iconic brand.

The sale, for an enterprise value of about $46 million, marks FirstGroup's exit from its international operations. Earlier this year, it sold its U.S. school bus and transit business to private-equity firm EQT to focus on its UK bus and train operations.

FirstGroup will receive a total of $172 million in cash from the deal, the company said in a statement on Thursday, a portion of which will be used to pay down Greyhound's liabilities and leases.

It will retain some properties and legacy liabilities of Greyhound, including pension and self-insurance.

Dallas-based Greyhound, a household name in North America since it was founded in 1914, was put up for sale in May 2019 as it battled with growing pressure from low cost airlines.

FlixMobility, owner of European intercity bus service FlixBus, said the purchase would help marry its technology and shared mobility expertise with Greyhound's nationwide presence.

Greyhound has a fleet of 1,300 vehicles and 2,400 employees, providing services connecting 1,750 destinations across North America.

The deal will help FirstGroup cut its adjusted net debt to about 10 million to 20 million pounds ($27.60 million), about 80 million to 90 million pounds lower than an earlier forecast.

($1 = 0.7246 pounds)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)