Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:14 UK

National Express gets 765m bid

National Express train
National Express has been the subject of much interest this year

The largest shareholder in National Express has made a £765m ($1.25bn)takeover offer for the transport group.

Spain's Cosmen family - which owns an 18.5% stake - together with private equity firm CVC has offered 500p a share, up from an earlier bid of 450p.

Rival Stagecoach also said it had agreed in principle to buy National Express's bus and rail operations from the consortium if a deal went through.

National Express's shares surged 13.8% to 469p, the biggest gain since May.

The CVC-Cosmen consortium said its latest offer was final, and would be withdrawn if not recommended by the board of National Express.

Route row

The offer follows recent turmoil at National Express, which lost the rights to the East Coast route this year.

In July, the government said it would take the route back into public ownership after National Express lost about £20m in the first half of the year and suffers from falling passenger numbers.

This caused another transport firm, First Group, to pull out of bidding for National Express earlier this year.

Four years ago the Cosmen family sold the coach firm Alsa to National Express for £149m and a 10% holding in the firm, which employs 43,000 people through operations in the UK, North America and Spain.

The Cosmen stake has been built up since then and Jorge Cosmen is deputy chairman of the National Express board.

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