It's been announced that UK-based transport operator Stagecoach has lost the franchise to run South West Trains to First MTR South Western Trains, a joint venture of FirstGroup plc and Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation. The contract, which is set to run to at least 2024, will see the JV invest £1.2bn in the network to attain the commuter's holy grail of boosting train capacity and reducing journey times. In comparison to the UK's oft maligned networks, Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is widely acknowledged as the world's best: in 2016 its commuters experienced a delay of at least five minutes in only one out of every 900,000km travelled.
The deal marks the latest example in a long line of inbound acquisitions of UK household brands by Asian acquirers (think Skyscanner and the mighty West Bromwich Albion FC). With Chinese cross-border M&A volumes into the UK hitting a record high in 2016, Q2 looks like it's full steam ahead for the flight of the Dragon.
A Hong Kong-based firm is to help run one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, the government has announced.MTR, which operates the Hong Kong Metro, has been awarded the franchise along with First Group to run South West Trains (SWT) for seven years.