Carlyle Group invests $460 million in UK taxi firm Addison Lee

A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

LONDON (Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group CG.O said on Friday it had made a significant investment in British taxi company Addison Lee.

Founded by outspoken minicab driver John Griffin in 1975 with just one car, Addison Lee has become a major competitor to London’s black cabs and now carries more than 10 million passengers a year.

Carlyle did not disclose how big a stake it had bought in Addison Lee, which provides private hire services in London and the South East of England, or how much it had paid.

One person familiar with the matter said it was a very significant majority and the investment was in the region of 300 million pounds.

“The focus for Carlyle’s investment in Addison Lee will be to drive business expansion both in the UK and internationally by providing transport services to a wider range of blue chip corporates and individual customers,” Carlyle said in a statement.

Griffin sparked controversy last year with comments in Addison Lee’s company magazine that the growing number of cyclists taking to the road without proper training would lead to an increase in accidents involving cyclists.

He also previously called on his drivers to use London’s bus lanes illegally.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Anjuli Davies; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle