The Competition and Markets Authority has issued an order to put a proposed merger of National Express and Stagecoach on hold.
Plans for the proposed £1.9 billion deal for the coach operators were confirmed last month, but the regulator has now stepped in to “maintain the businesses in their current shape” while it considers the implications of the proposal and any sell-offs.
Stagecoach operates a range of brands including Megabus, while National Express operates services primarily in the UK, but also has operations in the US, Spain and Germany.
Last year, it unveiled plans to open up further to the trade by bringing a range of brands together under a single holidays venture.
Stagecoach said it would work with the CMA to allay any concerns and expected the merger to go ahead by around the end of 2022.