Stagecoach joins the queue for beleaguered National Express

Stagecoach, the Scottish transport group, confirmed yesterday that it was in talks with the consortium bidding for its beleaguered rival National Express about buying parts of the business in the event of a successful takeover. Stagecoach has not ruled out a bid for the whole company.

The consortium includes the buyout specialist CVC Capital Partners, and Spain's Cosmen family, which is also the largest shareholder in National Express. They are hoping to make a cash offer for the rail and coach operator, subject to a number of conditions.

On Friday, the consortium said it had made an indicative offer for National Expresss after First Group bowed out of the bidding following a "put up or shut up" deadline. The Cosmen family has an 18.5 per cent holding in National Express and Jorge Cosmen is deputy chairman of the group. The Cosmens sold their Spanish bus company, Alsa, to National Express in 2005 for £149m and 10 per cent of the shares.

National Express has £1.2bn of debt, and with recession-hit Britons either not travelling or shopping around for lower fares, its covenants are under threat. The group is pulling out of the £1.4bn East Coast Main Line franchise because it can no longer afford to support it, and the Government is taking the rail line back into public ownership. Meanwhile, National Express's chief executive, Richard Bowker, is resigning to take the top job at Union Railway in the United Arab Emirates.

Britain's rail franchise system is under increasing pressure. MPs on the Commons transport committee called for a rethink yesterday, and the RMT union, which will stage the first of four 48-hour strikes on the East Anglia network on Thursday, says the system is "a mess". Bob Crow, the RMT's general-secretary, said: "The suggestion of a Stagecoach takeover bid for National Express shows the big players are still playing with rail franchises like they are some giant game of corporate pass the parcel."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Sales Team Leader - Wakefield, West Yorkshire

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders