National Express in talks for take-over with Stagecoach bus company


Coach operator National Express is in talks to buy the Stagecoach Group in an all-share arrangement.

The £445m deal would mean 75% ownership for National Express and 25% of the merged company for shareholders in Stagecoach, which operates services across the country including in Kent.

The bus company was founded in 1980 by Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, who bought Manston airport in 2013 and shut it a year later, selling a majority stake to businessmen Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave who formed Stone Hill Park.

Ann and Brian started the Stagecoach company with two buses bought from their father’s redundancy package.

The companies said the latest deal would mean savings of £35 million per year through efficiencies.

Discussions and due diligence are ongoing. Stagecoach employs 24000 people in the UK and National Express employs 48000.

A statement from Stagecoach says: “The Board of Stagecoach Group plc confirms that it is in discussions with National Express Group PLC (“National Express”) in relation to a possible all-share combination.

“Under the terms, 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 per cent of the Combined Group.

“The Boards of Stagecoach and National Express believe that the Potential Combination would be a strategically compelling proposition with the potential to realise significant growth and cost synergies, as well as delivering strong value creation for both sets of shareholders.

“It is expected that (it) would provide an opportunity to:

– Deliver significant operational efficiencies across the combined networks, with, for example, National Express Coach utilising Stagecoach’s well located depot network to run and maintain its coach operations;

– Bring the ‘best of both’ from the combined operational capabilities of both businesses, whilst also delivering significant benefits to customers and passengers;

– Accelerate the expansion of National Express’ growth businesses, such as private hire coach, corporate shuttle and accessible transport, across Stagecoach’s UK footprint, as well as deliver other growth and revenue synergies; and

– Maintain strong relationships with key public sector stakeholders, best positioning the Combined Group in an evolving industry landscape, with quality public transport playing a critical role in delivering government priorities for cleaner, greener and more resilient economies.”

National Express is required to either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Stagecoach or announce that it does not intend to make the offer by, 5pm on 19 October.


  1. Potentially could this be because of the breakdown of the business relationship of Ann and Brian.
    Ann and Brian have a very bad reputation within the coach and bus industry plus their foray in the USA , Australia and other area’s of the world has failed.
    Many potentially within Thanet would be be pleased to see the name of Stagecoach disappear because of Ann’s dealings over Manston Airport.
    KCC and the whole of Kent may benefit because we the residents of Kent would not be supporting a company and directors who only think of their own interests.
    Will we finally see the truth that Ann and Brian have tried to hide through threats. ?
    However, we must remember that they both have interests in other modes of transport within the UK so thew UK cannot totally say good bye to the duo.

    • “Many potentially within Thanet would be be pleased to see the name of Stagecoach disappear because of Ann’s dealings over Manston Airport.”
      I’m sure they will.
      Which is quite a shame, because Manston over the years lost millions of pounds, quite a lot of it under the guiding hand of Tony Freudmann, the CEO of RiverOak.

  2. The East Kent operation is an outlier. I suspect that East Kent will be sold to Arriva and melded with the old Maidstone + District area. Other parts of the Souter bus empire will be sold off to pay for the deal and pay down debt.
    Coach companies don’t retain fare stage operations for long, so the interest is probably in acquiring any coaching interests or similar operations.
    Gloag is probably more interested in crenellating her castle, but Brian S is a busman through and through. Both are not nice people, but I cannot see BS retiring anytime soon, unless illness or infirmity has intervened.
    Nothing is going to save our bus services apart from investment and something better than the amateur interventions of KCC.

    • What debt would that be? Stagecoach Group are still trading profitably although profit levels have seen a decline since Covid (as have most transport undertakings).

      • Have you not heard of leverage? Look, I acquire a company with lots of assets, which I either sell, lease back or pledge in return for cash.The cash is then distributed in the form of dividends. How do you think Ann Gloag owns an estate as big as Balmoral by PAYE!
        There is debt, especially after the American ventures, and latterly the rail franchises. The Porterbrook ROSCO operation however, did pay, handsomely.

    • National Express are more than just a coach company, They already run quite an extensive bus network in the West Midlands and have reduced day & longer fares recently. I hope that they don’t sell the operation to Arriva though as in my experience their fares are a lot more expensive than Stagecoach fares.

      • Your comments about Arriva are well made. I live in Stevenage where Arriva is the main operator and I can tell you that Stagecoach fares in Thanet are considerably lower and the services more reliable.

  3. Yes, instead of people using private cars and complaining about excessive traffic on local roads (!) they snhld be vigorously lobbying our MPs for much better public transport. There is after all a climate change emergency.

Comments are closed.