EMR returns to UK ownership

Abellio, the Dutch state-backed transport operator, has relinquished control of its UK business to a brand-new company formed as a result of an MBO – a deal which has huge ramifications for rail services in the East Midlands.

Abellio UK won the franchise to provide rail services across the region and beyond, operated by its subsidiary EMR, in 2019.

The British company has now completed a “complex” deal to buy out Dutch shareholder Nederlandse Spoorwegen, formally returning the service to UK ownership.

The MBO process began in August 2022.

Newly-formed company Transport UK Group Ltd (TUK) will take over all of Abellio UK’s existing services, serving millions of rail and bus passengers in London, Liverpool, the East and West Midlands and East Anglia.

The deal was led by managing director Dominic Booth, who has decades of experience running public transport services in the UK.

He said: “We are thrilled to return key public transport services back into UK ownership. While our name will change to Transport UK Group, our values remain the same. We will continue to play a key role in the country’s transport sector, ensuring the provision of our award-winning services to passengers around the UK and driving innovation to develop a low-emission UK transport network.”

RSM UK advised on the deal.

Natalie Ord, partner at RSM UK, said: “This deal brings the provision of vital services fully into UK ownership and offers a framework for continuity, certainty and confidence for all key stakeholders. Dominic and the team have a strong track record in the industry and their experience will be instrumental in their plans to drive long-term growth opportunities.

“This was a complicated cross-border transaction with many moving parts, highlighting the importance of an integrated team of specialist advisors. Abellio UK has been a valued client of RSM’s for many years and it has been fantastic to support Dominic, Ed, Alan and the team through this journey. We wish them all the best.”