Fidelity Investments is selling BostonCoach, the well-known limousine and black-car service the firm’s iconic chairman Edward “Ned” C. Johnson III launched in 1985 after waiting too long for a taxi at the airport.
The Boston mutual fund giant has agreed to sell BostonCoach to the corporate limousine and taxi company Harrison Global of Waltham, according to people briefed on the matter. One of Harrison Global’s top executives, Russ Cooke, is a former president of Everett-based BostonCoach.
The sale price could not immediately be learned. In a competitive landscape with thin margins, BostonCoach has been cutting costs since 2008. At that time, the company said it employed 1,200 people overall, a figure that has since been cut in half. BostonCoach currently employs about 275 people in Massachusetts.
In 2010, BostonCoach reported $83 million in annual revenue—down from $147 million in 2006.
News of the sale circulated this week in limo circles, but Fidelity said it had nothing to announce on Thursday afternoon. BostonCoach is part of Fidelity’s private equity group, Devonshire Investors, which invests in private companies.
BostonCoach has long been known as one of Johnson’s pet projects and he trained his characteristic attention to detail on the business. The car service initially transported Fidelity employees, but it has expanded over time to 200 vehicles in Boston and service in 40 countries. Today, BostonCoach has a blog and an iPhone application for booking rides.
Years ago, one BostonCoach driver described his embarrassment at picking up Johnson and not realizing there was a spill on the floor of the back seat of the car. The driver realized the problem only as he saw Johnson bent over, wiping up the mess himself.
Johnson, 82, remains chairman of Fidelity but recently elevated his daughter Abigail Johnson, to the clear No. 2 position. A number of shifts have been taking place at the firm, including moving its headquarters away from Devonshire Street to a new building near South Station, closer to the innovation district.
Larry Moulter, the former chief of the Boston Garden sports arena, has been running BostonCoach since 2008.