Branson 'unlikely' to go for Go

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Sir Richard Branson's low-cost airline Virgin Express has indicated it is unlikely to launch a counter bid to trump easyJet's £450m offer for rival Go.

However, the Brussels-based airline left open the possibility of a move, adding that its chairman, David Hoare, was seeking a meeting with the vendor, 3i, on Tuesday.

"Virgin Express is very unlikely to consider bidding for Go at this late stage but we are in the process of expansion so we will talk to 3i about any opportunities for us," a spokesman said.

Mr Hoare will have just one day if he wants to muscle in on easyJet's deal because the no-frills carrier is expected to announce the takeover on Wednesday.

The deal, which will be funded by a bumper share issue, comes just a fortnight after easyJet's founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said he was stepping down as chairman.

Virgin Express, which is quoted on the Belgian Stock Exchange, has previously concentrated on becoming the leading low-cost airline in mainland Europe.

While Mr Hoare said the airline had in the past been deterred from competing against the large number of low-cost brands operating in the UK, consolidation made the British market more attractive.