– UK, Aberdeen – FirstGroup plc announces that John McFarlane will join the board with immediate effect, and succeed Martin Gilbert as Chairman effective 1 January 2014, at which time Martin will retire from the board.

John is chairman of Aviva plc, the UK’s largest insurance group by assets, having joined the board in September 2011, during which period he spent eight months in an executive capacity pending the appointment of a new CEO. Considerable progress has been made at Aviva under his leadership.

John is also non-executive director of Westfield Holdings Ltd, the world’s largest retail mall operator headquartered in Sydney, with flagship developments in London, and of Old Oak Holdings Ltd, a London-based privately-owned financial holding company.

John spent over 38 years in the international financial institutions sector, including ten years as CEO of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited. ANZ is now one of the top 20 banks in the world by market capitalisation. Prior to that, he was an executive director at Standard Chartered, and head of Citibank in the UK. His early career was with Ford in Dagenham in manufacturing. More recently, in October 2008, he joined the board of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group as a non-executive director to assist in its recovery post the global financial crisis.

John Sievwright, Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, said: “On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to announce the appointment of John McFarlane as Chairman of FirstGroup. John is an outstanding leader with extensive international experience and a track record of leading strategic change and value creation that speaks for itself. I am delighted to welcome him to the Group where his experience will be invaluable as we drive forward our plans to improve our returns, resilience and growth prospects.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Martin Gilbert who has been involved with the Group since its formation and has been instrumental in establishing its position as the leading transport operator in the UK and North America. On behalf of the Board and everyone at FirstGroup I would like to thank him for his enormous contribution to the Group over many years”, he said.

Commenting, John McFarlane said: “I am pleased to be joining FirstGroup at an important stage of its evolution.

The Group has short-term challenges which we will naturally need to overcome, but I am convinced it has significant opportunity to benefit from its market-leading positions and to deliver sustainable long-term value for shareholders. I look forward to playing a pivotal role in its future.”

About John McFarlane

John McFarlane assumed the chairmanship of Aviva plc in July 2012, having joined the board as chairman designate in September 2011. He has extensive experience in executive and non-executive roles, and has spent over 38 years in the international financial institutions sector and has over 20 years of public company board experience as chairman, CEO, executive director and non-executive director. He began his career at the Ford Motor Company in manufacturing.

In October 2008 he joined the board of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc as a non-executive director having retired from ANZ in September 2007 after ten years as chief executive officer. ANZ is one of Australia’s largest companies, the largest company in New Zealand, and one of the world’s top 20 banks. In September 2007 ANZ was recognised as the leading bank globally for leadership in the Fortune 500, and the world’s leading bank in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Before joining ANZ, John was a group executive director at Standard Chartered plc, responsible initially for Group Strategy, later for North East Asia based in Hong Kong, and subsequently for South Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Prior to this, he was head of Citicorp Investment Bank Ltd, and Citibank in the UK and Ireland. John is currently a non-executive director of Westfield Holdings Limited, and of Old Oak Holdings Limited.

John has served as president of the International Monetary Conference (the annual meeting of the heads of the world’s major banks and central banks), was chairman of the Australian Bankers’ Association, and a director of the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Graduate School of Management, the Financial Regulatory Review Board, the Foreign Affairs Council, and the governing body of the Economics Research Institute for the Association of South East Asian Nations and East Asia. In the UK, he was a member of the Auditing Practices Board, the London Stock Exchange Council, the Securities Association (UK securities regulator), and the Bank of England Financial Law Review Panel. In 1992, he chaired The McFarlane Report – the review of “The Future Development of Auditing in the United Kingdom and Ireland.”

John, who has UK and Australian citizenship, was born in Dumfries, Scotland, and was educated at Dumfries Academy, the University of Edinburgh, Cranfield School of Management, and the London Business School. Cranfield later awarded John its inaugural Distinguished Alumnus Award as well as an honorary doctorate. John has banking and securities fellowships in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

About FirstGroup plc

FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is the leading transport operator in the UK and North America. With revenues of more than £6.5 billion and around 120,000 employees, we transport more than 2.5 billion passengers every year. Each of our five divisions is a leader in its field: First Student is the largest provider of student transportation in North America with a fleet of around 50,000 yellow school buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit management and contracting services in the US, while Greyhound is the only national operator of scheduled intercity coach services across North America. In the UK, FirstGroup is one of Britain’s largest bus operators running a fleet of some 6,500 buses, and we operate approximately a quarter of the UK passenger rail network, carrying over 310 million passengers a year. Our vision is to provide solutions for an increasingly congested world, keeping people moving and communities prospering.

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