Railway group Canadian Pacific has agreed to purchase Kansas Metropolis Southern for $28.9bn together with debt within the largest takeover deal this yr.

The transaction is the largest in CP’s historical past and can see it take over the smallest of the seven Class I railway operators that dominate a major share of freight exercise within the US.

It marks the most recent effort to shake up a construction among the many huge railroads within the US and Canada that has been unchanged since CSX and Norfolk Southern — the 2 huge operators within the japanese US — took over Conrail and divided it between themselves in 1999.

The Calgary-based firm can pay $275 per share in cash-and-stock to purchase the US freight group, the individuals mentioned.

CP’s proposal represents a 23 per cent premium on Kansas Metropolis Southern’s closing inventory worth of $224 on the finish of final week. The deal values its fairness at $24.9bn earlier than the inclusion of debt.

The board of Kansas Metropolis Southern authorised the supply on Saturday and the 2 corporations notified the Floor Transportation Board, the US regulator for freight rail, in regards to the deal, individuals with direct data of the matter mentioned. The acquisition will must be authorised by the STB.

Buyers have been involved that any additional consolidation would run into issues with the STB. Because it stands, there are two competing huge operators in Canada — CP and Canadian Nationwide — CSX and Norfolk Southern within the japanese US and Union Pacific and BNSF within the west. Kansas Metropolis Southern, the smallest Class I, is the one operator centered on north-south operations.

Kansas Metropolis Southern’s efficiency has been carefully tied to commerce between the US, Canada and Mexico, with its predominant routes linking the 2 international locations neighbouring the US. It additionally has intensive operations in Mexico and owns a 50 per cent stake within the Panama Canal Railway Firm.

The railway sector was hit arduous within the early part of the pandemic due to restrictions imposed by the US authorities to comprise the unfold of coronavirus.

Prospects have improved over latest months, because the US accelerated its rollout of vaccines and enterprise exercise picked up. President Joe Biden’s efforts to strengthen US-Mexico commerce relations are anticipated to additional enhance railway exercise.

Shares of Kansas Metropolis Southern have greater than doubled previously yr. The corporate rejected a takeover bid final September from a Blackstone and International Infrastructure Companions-led consortium that valued its shares at $21bn.

Kansas Metropolis Southern reported an 8 per cent drop in revenues in 2020 to $2.6bn and a 23 per cent enhance in internet earnings to $617m. It employs about 6,200 workers, in accordance with Capital IQ, in contrast with almost 12,000 on the Canadian group.

Shares in CP have climbed 80 per cent over the previous yr and have a market worth of C$63bn ($50bn). The corporate’s largest shareholder is Chris Hohn’s TCI hedge fund, which had an 8.4 per cent stake, in accordance with filings from the top of final yr.

Canadian Pacific beforehand approached first CSX after which Norfolk Southern about potential mergers in 2015 and 2016 underneath Hunter Harrison, the charismatic chief government who had been put in after a marketing campaign by Invoice Ackman, the activist investor.

Nonetheless each bids had been rebuffed and there have been no additional makes an attempt at mergers since Harrison unexpectedly resigned from CP in January 2017 shortly earlier than his sudden dying in December that yr.

CP declined to remark. Kansas Metropolis Southern didn’t reply to a request for remark.

This text has been amended to mirror the truth that the Floor Transportation Board has not authorised the deal