National Express on board for Stagecoach swoop

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Birmingham-based travel giant National Express is set to make a bid for Scottish counterpart Stagecoach in a move that could bring together two of the UK’s biggest transport firms.

National Express confirmed this morning (September 21) that it has been in discussions regarding the ambitious bid for Stagecoach in a deal that would value the Scottish firm at around £370m.

Both companies say that any merger deal would cut costs of administration and route-sharing for the firms, which suffered during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

If the deal goes through, Stagecoach shareholders would receive 0.36 new National Express ordinary shares for each Stagecoach ordinary share, resulting in them owning approximately 25% of the combined group. National Express shareholders would own approximately 75 % of the larger firm.

National Express says the new firm would make £35m of savings, with a £40m one-off expense

Ray O’Toole would become chair of the board of the combined group, with Sir John Armitt CBE stepping down having been chair of National Express since February 2013.

A statement from National Express said: “The boards of National Express and Stagecoach believe that the potential combination would be a strategically compelling proposition with significant growth and cost synergies, as well as delivering strong value creation for both sets of shareholders.”

In 2009, National Express rebuffed the offer of a £1.7bn merger deal put forward by Stagecoach.