Europe's largest intercity bus service says the deal will allow it to further expand its European network. Rumors of a FlixBus IPO have been circulating recently, with the firm valued at €1 billion ($1.13 billion).
FlixBus, which offers low-cost intercity bus travel across Europe, is negotiating to buy its smaller competitor Eurolines.
French transport group Transdev, which owns Eurolines, and the Munich-based Flixbus confirmed on Monday that exclusive talks were underway, without disclosing the financial details.
Eurolines, whose network spans 25 countries, operates French domestic routes under the Isilines brand, which would be part of the possible deal.
"With this merger, FlixBus would have an even more comprehensive and more diverse offer to attract even more passengers. We want to be the first choice for travelers across Europe," Flixbus managing director Jochen Engert said.
Transdev, which runs bus, rail, tram and ferry services from New Zealand to Chile and across Europe, operates the second-largest rail fleet in Germany.
Its Eurolines service, which operates from the Belgian capital, Brussels, is a much smaller concern. It transported 2.5 million passengers in 2018, up 10 percent compared to 2017, the website TechCrunch cited a company spokesperson as saying.
Transdev CEO Thierry Mallet said in a statement that the possible sale of Eurolines was "in line with our strategic plan."
Aggressive expansion underway
FlixBus, with its instantly-recognizable green coaches, has become Germany's leading bus operator since the country relaxed strict restrictions on long-distance buses in 2013. Around 45 million people traveled with Flixbus in 2018, including in the US, its newest territory.
FlixBus now controls 95 percent of the German market but faces fierce competition from another French rival BlaBlaBus — an offshoot of the car-sharing platform BlaBlaCar — which plans to expand into Germany this year.
In December, the Reuters news agency reported of plans for a Flixbus IPO later this year, citing sources close to the matter as saying the flotation could proceed if market conditions are favorable.
If the takeover goes ahead, FlixBus and BlaBlaBus — who last year bought Ouibus, the long-distance bus business of the French national railway SNCF, will be the only long-distance operators in France and Germany.
mm/jm (AFP, AP, DPA)