The UK competition watchdog said this morning it has launched an investigation into the £1.9bn merger between National Express and Stagecoach due to concerns over the tie-up.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had served a so-called initial enforcement order, which stops the companies from fully combining while it considers the deal.
Stagecoach said the move will delay the planned sale of the marketing, retail and customer service operations of its inter-city coach businesses to ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited.
It added that the merger partners continue to believe the sell-off will be a “comprehensive solution to any competition concerns that might arise from their overlapping coach operations”.
It said the firms “will engage with the CMA to allow the Stagecoach coach disposal to complete as soon as possible”.
The two firms agreed an all-share merger last month in a deal that will create a combined firm worth about £1.9 billion with a fleet of about 40,000 vehicles and a workforce of 70,000 people.