Cosmens and CVC team up for NatExp bid
NATIONAL Express’ biggest shareholder, Spain’s Cosmen family, is understood to have linked up with private equity firm CVC to table an offer for National Express, in a deal which is thought to value the train and bus firm at £500m.
The family, which has an 18.5 per cent holding in the firm, wants to acquire the entire group and hand its huge £1.2bn debt pile to its own lenders.
It is understood that National Express thinks the firm is worth significantly more than the Cosmen family’s offer and is holding out for a bid which values the firm at around 400p a share or £620m.
The Cosmen family sold its Spanish bus and coach operations to National Express in 2005 for £460m. If its current offer is accepted it would get this business back at a greatly reduced price.
National Express first announced it has been approached by a mystery third party on Wednesday evening – just hours after rival FirstGroup said it had abandoned its own plans for a buyout.
FirstGroup chief executive Moir Lockhead said it would be “inappropriate” to make a bid for the firm given the uncertainty over its future as a national train operator.
National Express fell into dificulties after the Department of Transport stripped it of the right to run the key East Coast Mainline service.
The firm walked away from the service after it failed to renegotiate its franchise with the government, which has threatened to take away its East Anglia business as well.