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Stephenson Harwood advises Govia on securing merger clearance for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise

16 September 2014  •  Author: Stephenson Harwood

International law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead and Keolis, on securing a Phase 1 merger clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) rail franchise. The CMA announced its clearance decision on 11 September 2014. The TSGN franchise commenced operations on 14 September 2014.

Go-Ahead is a leading UK public transport operator, providing high quality services in the bus and rail sectors.

Keolis is one of Europe’s leading public transport operators, established in fifteen countries on four continents. 

Stephenson Harwood represented Govia in securing both a referral back from the European Commission and a Phase 1 merger clearance from the CMA. TSGN is one of the first rail franchises to be awarded under the Government’s new rail franchising timetable, and also one of the first rail franchise awards to be assessed by the CMA following its introduction in April 2014. TSGN is one of the largest rail franchises in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue, and staff. Govia was announced as the successful bidder on 23 May 2014.

Julianne O’Leary, head of competition at Stephenson Harwood commented: “We are delighted to have secured this successful outcome for Govia. The CMA is devoting extensive resources to rail franchise cases. In many cases there is a very small window between the award of the franchise and the commencement of operations, therefore it’s important to engage early on with the CMA”.

Tammy Samuel, rail partner at Stephenson Harwood commented: “Stephenson Harwood prides itself on advising on all aspects of transactions in the railways industry. The successful TSGN merger clearance once again demonstrates the strength and breadth of our rail practice and our market leading reputation”.

The team at Stephenson Harwood was led by competition partner Julianne O’Leary, who was assisted by competition associate Joseph Del-Greco. They were supported by rail partner Tammy Samuel and rail associate Darren Fodey.

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