Page last updated at 08:16 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 09:16 UK

Stagecoach eyes National Express

Stagecoach is well established in the UK bus market

Transport group Stagecoach has said it is in exclusive talks with potential buyers of rival National Express, over a possible break-up of the firm.

A group including Spain's Cosmen family and private equity firm CVC has made a takeover proposal for National Express.

And Perth-based Stagecoach expressed interest in "certain assets and businesses" should the bid succeed.

But Stagecoach will also consider "all other options" - which media reports say may include its own individual bid.

On Monday, the Financial Times reported that National Express was set to reject the approach from the consortium of CVC and the Cosmen family.

Rail row

Last week, rival UK transport company First Group dropped out the running as a possible suitor for National Express, saying would be "inappropriate" to consider a takeover because of uncertainties surrounding the business.

The government is set to take the National Express-run East Coast main line rail franchise into state ownership after ministers refused its requests for its contract to be renegotiated.

National Express has also been warned its other rail deals may be terminated.

Stagecoach is the UK's biggest rail franchise operator, running South West Trains, Virgin Trains and East Midlands Trains. It also operates buses and coaches around the UK including Megabus.

Four years ago the Cosmen family sold the coach firm Alsa to National Express for £149m and a 10% holding in the firm. However, the family's stake in the firm has since risen to 18.5%.

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