Stagecoach withdraws support for National Express merger

National Express gets deadline extension to consider possible offer for Stagecoach

Stagecoach has withdrawn its support for a planned merger with National Express after it received a rival bid from German asset manager DWS Infrastructure.

The operator said today that it no longer plans to recommend the £470m planned takeover by National Express, announced in December, after agreeing to be bought by an infrastructure fund managed by DWS Infrastructure, which also manages Belgian bus operator Hansea.

The deal is worth £594.9m, or 105p in cash for each Stagecoach share.

“Stagecoach is a leading multi-modal public transport operator and the proposed offer presents a major opportunity to maximise the significant growth potential ahead as governments seek to deliver economic recovery, level up communities, provide better health outcomes for citizens, and transition to a net zero future,” says Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths. “We believe it will open a new and exciting chapter for Stagecoach, backed by a team who share our vision for a more sustainable future.

“We also believe it will deliver positive outcomes both now and in the long-term for all of our key stakeholders: The customers and the communities we serve, the people who deliver our high-quality transport services, our partners in national and local government, and the investors who have supported our continued success over many decades.”

Stagecoach and National express had previously agreed an all-share deal in December that would have merged Stagecoach’s UK bus operations with National Express’s coach network, creating a workforce of some 70,000 people and a fleet of 40,000 vehicles.

In a results statement announced 10 March, National Express says it “notes the announcement of a counter-offer for Stagecoach” and that the board “is considering its options and will update the market in due course.”