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Nat Express attracts bid

STAGECOACH, the bus and rail group, has made an approach for its ailing rival National Express.<br /><br />The &pound;1.65bn all-share merger proposal was made in a letter from Stagecoach&rsquo;s chief executive Brian Souter, and chairman Robert Speirs to John Devaney, chairman at National Express.<br /><br />A tie-up between the two would leave Stagecoach, which is due to put out its full year results on Thursday, with the majority of the stock, the letter is understood to have said.<br /><br />The letter comes after a &pound;765m cash bid for National Express from a consortium led by the Spanish Cosmen family failed on Friday.<br /><br />The group, which also included private equity house CVC, pulled out of the takeover after spending a month poring over the bus and train operator&rsquo;s books.<br /><br />Stagecoach had made a deal with the consortium to buy National Express&rsquo; UK bus and rail arm if the takeover had completed.<br /><br />Meanwhile, sources close to the talks distanced themselves from speculation that FirstGroup, another big player in the UK transport market, was trying to find a way back into the deal. National Express is trying to raise &pound;400m in a rights issue.