More time for National Express bid

THE consortium behind a �765million takeover offer for the owner of regional train operator National Express East Anglia has been allowed another three weeks to pursue its interest.

THE consortium behind a �765million takeover offer for the owner of regional train operator National Express East Anglia has been allowed another three weeks to pursue its interest.

It is the second time that the largest shareholder in the National Express Group, the Spanish-based Cosmen family, and its partner CVC, a specialist buy-out firm, have been granted an extension to the “put up or shut up” deadline to commit to a firm bid.

The original deadline of September 11 was extended until today, when the City's Takeover Panel agreed to set a new deadline of 5pm on Friday, October 16.

The latest extension follows the agreement of the National Express board to allow the consortium to examine its books.

The Cosmen family - headed by Jorge Cosmen who is deputy chairman of National Express but has taken no part in the boards discussions in respect of the bid - owns 18.5% of National Express Group.

Should the deal go ahead, National Express is likely to be broken up between CVC, the Cosmens and rival transport group Stagecoach which has agreed in principle to take on its rival's UK rail and bus businesses, including National Express East Anglia.