Report: Stagecoach Wants National Express Merger

LONDON (Reuters) – British bus and rail group Stagecoach (SGC.L) has made a 1.65 billion pound ($2.7 billion) all-share merger proposal to rival transport operator National Express (NEX.L), The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The newspaper cited a letter written by Stagecoach Chief Executive Brian Souter and Chairman Robert Speirs to National Express Chairman John Devaney proposing a friendly merger of the two companies that would leave Stagecoach owning the majority of the stock.

On Friday a consortium led by Spain’s Cosmen family said it had decided not to mount a takeover bid for National Express after spending a month poring over the bus and train operator’s books, sending its shares down 23 percent. Stagecoach had made a deal with the consortium to buy National Express’s UK bus and rail operations if the offer succeeded.

A spokesman for Stagecoach declined to comment, while a spokeswoman for National Express declined to comment beyond stating the company would update the market when it issued an interim management statement on Thursday.

British transport group FirstGroup (FGP.L) proposed an all-share merger with National Express in June but walked away in July.

However, newspapers speculated on Sunday that it could re-enter the fray.

(Reporting by James Davey, editing by Will Waterman)

($1=.6157 Pound)