TRAIN and bus business FirstGroup has launched a scathing attack on the company’s biggest shareholder, calling it an “opportunistic, self-interested player that is only focused on short-term gains”.

It comes as bosses attempt to stave off a boardroom coup.

US activist investor Coast Capital has a 9.7% stake in the Aberdeen-based firm and wants to vote off six of 11 members of the company’s board – including the chief executive and chairman – replacing them with seven of their own representatives.

Yesterday, FirstGroup said Coast’s demands to split UK and US assets and quit the rail industry were “inconsistent” and “irresponsible”.

READ MORE: Transport giant FirstGroup considering move to spin-off UK bus arm

It also confirmed that a meeting for shareholders to vote on the new board members will take place on June 25.

Chief executive Matthew Gregory said: “Coast’s plans are rooted in the past. The people they are proposing [to put on the board] were with the company 20 years ago – before the technology we have now.

“A lot of what they are saying is just plain wrong, unfortunately,” he added.

Gregory also revealed that he met FirstGroup’s second, third and fourth biggest shareholders to talk through the proposals and make his case to vote against Coast’s plans, although he declined to give any details of the meeting.

Bosses said Coast’s planned new board members did not have sufficient experience and had “put forward plans that are inconsistent, demonstrate a lack of understanding of FirstGroup and are rooted in the past”.

Coast has demanded a radical overhaul of the company’s structures, including that it split its UK assets from its US assets and withdraw from Britain’s “destructive” rail industry in a bid to return to profit.

Last week, FirstGroup agreed to sell its US Greyhound bus business and is looking to separate its UK bus group, although bosses insisted the decision is nothing to with pressure from Coast.

On the substance of Coast’s demands, FirstGroup said plans to sale and lease back property would be “irresponsible”, causing more debt.

It added that calls to leave its UK rail franchises “pays no regard to the contractual nature of these arrangements”.