Rail firm could be taken over

Transport groups Stagecoach and FirstGroup are today mulling approaches for National Express after its �765 million sale talks collapsed last week.

EAST ANGLIA: Transport groups Stagecoach and FirstGroup are today mulling approaches for National Express after its �765 million sale talks collapsed last week, according to reports today.

Stagecoach was said to be seeking backing from the National Express board for a �1.7 billion merger proposal.

The operator of South West Trains and East Midlands Trains saw its plans to take on National Express's UK rail and bus business - including rail services in East Anglia - dashed when the Spanish Cosmen family and private equity firm CVC abandoned takeover talks late last week.

Reports suggest the renewed interest from Stagecoach has also prompted FirstGroup to reconsider an offer for National Express despite walking away from the takeover tussle in the summer.

Stagecoach and FirstGroup both declined to comment on the speculation, although a spokeswoman for FirstGroup said its position remained the same as it did in July when it withdrew from the running citing "uncertainty" around the National Express business.

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