Merger inquiry

Stagecoach asset sale delayed by CMA probe

The two firms expect merger to be unaffected

Stagecoach and National Express have been ordered to halt the sale of a coach business until the Competition and Markets Authority has completed an investigation into their proposed £1.9bn merger.

The probe will hold up completion of the proposed sale of the marketing, retail and customer service activities of Stagecoach’s inter-city coach businesses to ComfortDelGro Corporation which was due on 28 February.

The CMA has issued an interim enforcement order which prevents either company from disposing of UK assets at the current time.

This will maintain the businesses in their current shape while the CMA undertakes its review.

The two firms say they do not expect the delay to materially affect the day to day operations of the businesses or the completion of the merger.

In a statement the boards said they continue to believe the disposal of the inter-city coach business represents “a comprehensive solution to any competition concerns that might arise from their overlapping coach operations”.

They said they will engage with the CMA to allow the disposal to complete as soon as possible.

“We do not expect the IEO to materially affect the day to day operations of either National Express or Stagecoach, and the parties will continue to work with the CMA in relation to its review of the combination.

“At this stage, the boards of National Express and Stagecoach continue to expect the combination to complete around the end of 2022.”

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