Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Go-Ahead Guy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Go-Ahead Guy

Article excerpt

Martin Ballinger, group chief executive, Go-Ahead Group plc.

Martin Ballinger's many achievements of a working lifetime include having taken a humble regional bus company and turned it into a nationwide transport operation on road, rail and runway.

He has raised the North-East's standing in the organisation of national transport. And, outside his direct company commitments, he has moved mountains towards getting business and commerce in the region successfully integrated.

From the buyout of a small bus company in Gateshead, he has inspired the development of a flourishing and listed plc, valued by the market at pounds 650m.

The Lifetime Achievement Award goes annually to someone who is felt to have made a major contribution over a working lifetime, not only to a company but also to the region's broader interests.

The judges this year said: "Martin's development of an FTSE business might be seen by many as a lifetime achievement in itself. But he has done a lot more besides.

"He works hard on behalf of charities and the Church, work that has not always been publicly apparent because he did not want it to be so."

Today Go-Ahead Group, under his steering, operates road, rail and air passenger services. Its buses serve the North-East, London, Brighton, Oxford and other parts of the South-East. It operates the Bedford-Brighton Thameslink routes and the 20-year South Central franchise.

Through a merger with Aviance, the group also doubled the size of its aviation services, which are mainly at Heathrow and Gatwick.

With 18,500 employees and a turnover of some pounds 1.1bn, Go-Ahead stands seventh in the North-East list of Top 200 Companies.

It was Martin who led Go-Ahead Group's management through deregulation (1986), a pounds 3m management buyout of Northern General Bus Company as it then was (1987), and a successful placing on the London market in 1994. …

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