Break-up for National Express looms as Elliott gains support

TRANSPORT Group National Express edged closer to being broken up yesterday after an activist investor claimed a crucial shareholder supported its cause.

Hedge fund Elliott Advisors, now the largest shareholder with 17.5 per cent of National Express, said it expected second-biggest investor the Cosmen family to vote for its bid to add three new directors to the board.

The Cosmens, who sold the Alsa bus company to National Express in 2005, have not spoken publicly in favour of either side, but Jorge Cosmen, the group’s deputy chairman, has effectively been a signatory to the board’s opposition to Elliott.

“Elliott has had a number of discussions with representatives of the Cosmen family in relation to its proposals to appoint three new directors to the board,” Elliott’s statement said.

“Based on those discussions, Elliott expects that the Cosmen family and its nominees will vote their shares in favour of the resolutions.”

City A.M. has learned that Elliott will meet National Express shareholders in London this week. Based on last year’s annual vote it would need the support of just one more top ten shareholder to pass its proposals.

The Cosmen family is likely to want to break up the group to regain control of its Spanish assets.