UK puts brakes on bus merger awaiting probe

The Competition and Markets Authority said it had ordered a pause to the £1.9 billion tie-up of National Express and Stagecoach while it readies a competition probe.

National Express has bus and coach networks across the UK and runs services abroad, including school buses in North America.

It also operates a rail franchise in Germany, while UK-focused Stagecoach is one of Britain’s largest bus and coach operators.


The CMA announced in a brief statement that it had issued an enforcement order to prevent the pair fully combining or offloading assets, after deciding to investigate the transaction.

In reaction, Stagecoach said it would delay completion of the sale of its marketing, retail and customer service activities of its inter-city coach businesses, even though it said the disposal was aimed at addressing competition concerns.

National Express and Stagecoach announced merger plans in September.

The deal would create a combined group with a global fleet of 40,000 vehicles and a workforce of 70,000.

Under a proposed all-share deal, National Express would own a controlling 75 percent of the new group and Stagecoach the remainder.

© Agence France-Presse

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