British transport group National Express to buy StageCoach in all-share deal

Parked busses are seen at a Stagecoach depot in South Shields as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, South Shields, Britain, April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Lee Smith

Dec 14 (Reuters) - British public transport group National Express (NEX.L) is acquiring rival StageCoach (SGC.L) in an all-share deal, the companies said on Tuesday, consolidating amid a recovery in passenger numbers from pandemic lows and an imminent end of state aid.

StageCoach shareholders will get 0.36 new National Express shares in exchange for each share held, and will own about 25% of the combined group. StageCoach's board has backed the deal.

The deal, which would value Stagecoach at about 445 million pounds ($588.33 million), comes as government support to help the companies get through the pandemic is due to expire.

The two companies have been in talks over a possible deal since September, and the terms were similar to that disclosed at the time.

StageCoach Chairman Ray O'Toole will become the chair of the merged group, while National Express Chief Executive Officer Ignacio Garat will lead the combined group.

($1 = 0.7564 pounds)

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Shailesh Kuber

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