NatExpress in new approach

NATIONAL Express was thrown into fresh turmoil yesterday when the transport group said it received a second approach for the business less than an hour after rival FirstGroup walked away from a potential bid. <br /><br />The new suitor for the troubled bus and rail group is likely to be another trade buyer like Stagecoach, Go-Ahead or Arriva, although an approach from a European private equity buyer cannot be ruled out.<br /><br />National Express said it had received a fresh &ldquo;approach in connection with a possible offer for the group from another third party&rdquo;.<br /><br />FirstGroup first approached National Express in June but was rejected. The Takeover Panel had demanded that FirstGroup &ldquo;put up or shut up&rdquo;, which led the UK&rsquo;s biggest transport firm to decide against making an offer. FirstGroup chief executive Sir Moir Lockhead said, in view of the uncertainty surrounding the position of National Express, a bid would be &ldquo;inappropriate.&rdquo; <br /><br />National Express was rocked last month when the Department for Transport stripped it of the right to run the key East Coast Mainline rail franchise, after the government refused to ease the terms of its franchise. Its chief executive Richard Bowker left the firm shortly after.