OFT holds up Stagecoach
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• Stagecoach, the fastgrowing Scottish bus operator, has gone on a buying spree — snapping up ex-National Bus Company subsidiary Ribble Motor Services of Preston only days after buying East Midland Motor Services. However, the Ribble deal is now being assessed by the Office of Fair Trading to see if it is against the public interest.
Stagecoach chairman Brian Sauter owns four ex-NBC companies in the UK (the other three are Cumberland, Hampshire Bus and United Counties) and runs a total of 2,000 vehicles. "Investigation by the OFT is a possibility. It has to be a factor when they have already looked at Badger line's takeover of Midland Red West," says financial director Derek Scot.
The OFT says it will look at all the takeovers if it believes they could work against the public interest. Ribble recently bought the Bee Line Buzz Company of Manchester to become a major force in the North West. This presence has already prompted the OFT to action.
D Souter's dealings have taken on an international aspect with the purchase of United Transport Malawi from UTI.