National Express given more time for Stagecoach bid

National Express Group Plc now has until November 16 to make a firm offer for Perth-based transport firm Stagecoach Group, the companies said on Monday, after the Takeover Panel extended the deadline from the original date of October 19.

National Express announced on September 21 it was in talks to buy Stagecoach in an all-share deal that would value the Scottish company at about £445 million.

Under the terms of the potential combination, it is expected that 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.

Stagecoach founders Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag announced in April a 10-year plan to reduce their shareholdings in the firm from 27% to 5% — a move that some analysts viewed as paving the way for a takeover.

“Discussions between Stagecoach and National Express have continued, with respective management teams and advisers working constructively to progress reciprocal due diligence …” Stagecoach said in its statement.

This deadline can be extended by the board of Stagecoach, with the consent of the Takeover Panel …

As noted above, discussions between the parties and reciprocal due diligence remain ongoing and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made.”

National Express said: “An announcement of a firm intention to make an offer on a recommended basis by National Express under Rule 2.7 of the Code remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of a number of pre-conditions including, inter alia, the parties reaching final agreement on the other terms and conditions of the potential combination, satisfactory completion of reciprocal due diligence as well as final approval by the boards of National Express and Stagecoach.

“National Express reserves the right in its absolute discretion to waive any or all of these pre-conditions, in whole or in part.”