Bloomberg.com reported a short item today that Stagecoach Group's courtship of fellow UK transport company National Express Group is on the back burner, at least for now.
National Express reportedly "halted talks" with Stagecoach on a possible merger, which looked more likely over the last two weeks after a consortium led by National Express majority stakeholder Jorge Cosmen of the Spain Cosmens walked away from any negotiations. Stagecoach, which also operates limited school charter transportation contracts in North America, namely in Wisconsin with its Coach USA holdings, had entered the scene over the summer as a possible partner and upped its interest.
The news today sent National Express' stock downward by 17.9 pence, or 4.7 percent, to 364.6 pence, or roughly $6 a share.
At this writing, National Express' corporate Web site was neither confirming nor denying the report on its Web site, which has kept readers updated on the latest news regarding a company sale. FirstGroup was the first suitor to enter the picture earlier this summer with an informal inquiry into purchasing the business, which has been struggling this year amid lower than expected revenue and high operating costs tied to its North American school bus business, namely that at Durham School Services in the U.S. and Stock Transportation in Canada.
National Express Corporation here is the second largest contracted school bus operator behind FirstGroup America's First Student. But that interest was just as quickly retracted. It's interesting to note that First Student's President Linda Bell worked at Stagecoach UK before joining FirstGroup.