Stagecoach has received a rival £ 595mn cash bid from German asset manager DWS, scuppering National Express plans to combine with the Scottish bus operator and create a UK road transport giant.
A fund managed by DWS Infrastructure said on Wednesday that it agreed to pay 105p in cash for each Stagecoach share at a premium of 37 per cent to its stock price a day earlier.
The all share deal offered by National Express valued Stagecoach at about £ 470mn at the time of the bid in December.
Stagecoach said that its directors have decided unanimously to withdraw from recommending the National Express takeover offer.
The offer comes as UK bus operators received breathing room last week after the government extended pandemic recovery funds beyond April for six months, helping to keep services going as passenger numbers pick up again.
Investors are optimistic that the national bus strategy, which aims to improve services in England outside of London, and the UK’s goal to reach net zero by 2050, will drive growth for public transport operators.
DWS said that its long-term investment horizon makes it well placed to support Stagecoach’s business and that it has experience in transport through its ownership of Belgian bus operator Hansea.
“DWS Infrastructure will back Stagecoach to rapidly capitalize on the growth opportunities presented by increased public and private investment in UK bus and coach,” said Hamish Mackenzie, head of infrastructure at DWS.