The transport giant Arriva is to be taken over by the infrastructure specialist I Squared.
German owner Deutsche Bahn secured the sale worth around 1.6 billion euros (1.4 billion pounds) after a long period of trying to lighten the company’s burdens in order to reduce its debts.
Sunderland-based Arriva is one of the UK’s largest train and bus operators, including the largest fleet of London’s famous red double-decker buses.
The company, which also operates the London Overground network and the Chiltern and CrossCountry rail concessions, employs around 34,000 people in 10 European countries.
The acquisition agreement is expected to close next year, subject to “customary closing conditions and approvals.”
I Squared, which tried to buy London-listed rival transport company FirstGroup last year, committed to significant investment in Arriva following the deal.
Arriva Group CEO Mike Cooper said: “This is a great opportunity for Arriva and the start of an important new chapter for our business.”
“I know the I Squared team shares our belief in providing sustainable transportation services that meet both the needs of tomorrow and the pressures of today.
“I Squared’s investment in our business will help unlock new opportunities and create value for everyone who matters to Arriva – our people, the planet and, most importantly, the passengers we have the privilege of carrying every day.”
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union reacted angrily, with general secretary Mick Lynch saying: “This sale of Arriva by the German state railway to a company registered in a tax haven underlines what a perverse and corrupt system rail privatization is in this country .”
“Our members have not had a pay rise in over three years, despite huge profits and dividends for shareholders.”