Nat Exp will launch rights issue today

NATIONAL Express will today launch a discounted rights issue to raise about &pound;370m after it rejected a series of takeover approaches, City A.M. can confirm. <br /><br />The debt-laden transport group will pitch the cash-call at a discount of around 40 per cent to the theoretical ex-rights price.<br /><br />Shares closed down 3.1p at 338p last night, valuing the group at &pound;517m.<br /><br />Spain&rsquo;s Cosmen family, the company&rsquo;s biggest shareholder with 18.5 per cent of the stock, said two weeks ago that they had &ldquo;serious concerns about the absence of a well-defined strategy to address the company's broader and longer-term issues&rdquo;.<br /><br />This came after National Express rejected a &pound;1.6bn all-share merger approach from Stagecoach which followed an earlier 500p-a-share bid from the Cosmen family and private equity firm CVC.<br /><br />Rival FirstGroup pulled out of a takeover approach in July.