The ‘drop dead’ date for National Express to announce whether it is going ahead with its proposed takeover of the smaller Stagecoach Group has been pushed back from tomorrow (19 October) to 1700hrs on 16 November 2021.

Announced one month ago, the merger of the two bus and coach operators would create Britain’s largest group, which would be more able to face the challenges of the post-Covid recovery in bus travel, currently stuck at around 70% of pre-Covid levels.

Under Stock Market rules, National Express had until 1700hrs on 19 October either to announce a firm intention to make an offer for Stagecoach or to announce that it does not intend to make an offer.

In a Stock Market announcement this morning, the companies said: “Discussions between Stagecoach and National Express have continued, with respective management teams and advisers working constructively to progress reciprocal due diligence.”

Due to this, Stagecoach requested (and has received) approval from the Stock Market Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (the ‘Takeover Panel’) an extension to the ‘offer date’.

The shares for both companies continue to trade and “a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”