The UK’s competition’s watchdog has announced an investigation into the £1.9 billion merger between transport operators National Express and Stagecoach Group.
The two transport firms agreed terms of the merger in December 2021, which would create one of the largest multi-modal transport providers in the UK.
But the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) announced on Wednesday (26 January) that it had served an initial enforcement order to review the merger.
Stagecoach and National Express said the CMA decision would delay the proposed sale of Stagecoach's inter-city coach businesses to ComfortDelGro Corporation.
“The boards of National Express and Stagecoach continue to believe the Stagecoach coach disposal represents a comprehensive solution to any competition concerns that might arise from their overlapping coach operations and will engage with the CMA to allow the Stagecoach coach disposal to complete as soon as possible,” said the firms in a statement.
National Express and Stagecoach added that they did not expect the CMA investigation “to materially affect the day-to-day operations”, and both companies would work with the regulator during its review of the merger.
“At this stage, the boards of National Express and Stagecoach continue to expect the combination to complete around the end of 2022,” added the statement.