Truce called on National Express rejig

NATIONAL Express reached a compromise with its activist investor Elliott Advisors yesterday to end its calls for an overhaul of the transport group.

The truce prevents Elliott from publicly calling for change at the group for a year, while one of Elliott’s three proposed directors, Chris Muntwyler, will join the National Express board alongside two other company-selected candidates.

The peace deal, agreed less than 24 hours before the group’s annual general meeting (AGM) this morning, means that Elliott will drop all its proposed resolutions which were due to be put to today’s shareholder vote.

Elliott, National Express’ largest shareholder, had proposed three directors of its choice – transport executive Muntwyler; Spanish banker Javier Alarco Canosa and technology entrepreneur Marc Meyohas – to join the board to review its future. Options included an asset sale or merger with a rival such as Stagecoach.

National Express, which is undergoing a turnaround under chief executive Dean Finch, said it had started its own searches for new directors and would propose nominees of its own.

One investor source told City A.M. a truce was expected after National Express said it would add three new names to the board instead of two.

The candidates on the board’s shortlist include at least one high-profile US nominee, they added.

City A.M. understands Muntwyler was given the green light by National Express’ searches thanks to his experience – the current president of transport consultancy Conlogic, he spent nine years at DHL Express including as UK chief executive.

National Express declined to comment yesterday.