Morgan Stanley hired to help France's SNCF buy UK's Arriva

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SNCF, the French national rail operator run by Guillaume Pepys, has hired Morgan Stanley to plot the tactics for its tilt at Ftse 250 transport group Arriva.

Mr Pepys wants to merge Keolis, in which SNCF has the biggest stake, with Arriva to create a £5bn-turnover giant with a strong European reach. Arriva confirmed last month that "preliminary" talks had taken place. The British company's shares closed at 512p on Friday, down 6p for the day.