National Express rejects increased share offer

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The Independent Online

National Express has rejected a recently-increased, 450p approach from its Spanish suitor in favour of a plan to raise fresh equity and remain independent.

The offer from private equity group CVC Capital Partners and the Cosmen family significantly undervalues the business, the beleaguered transport group said today.

John Devaney, the executive chairman, said: “We have a clear strategy to strengthen the balance sheet through an equity issue and other actions which will accelerate our debt reduction process and help fund future growth.”

National Express has been a takeover target since it was forced to hand the East Coast Mainline train franchise back to the government in July. The company is embroiled in a fight with the Department for Transport over its other two rail contracts – c2c and East Anglia – after Lord Adonis threatened to take them back as well.