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National Express opens its books to CVC

National Express has today opened its books to the CVC consortium looking to acquire the operation for a price in the region of five pounds a share. While there has been no official takeover offer as yet, those close to the situation believe the opening of the company's books is the final precursor to a bid which is expected to value the company at around £765 million. The CVC consortium now has up until 25 September to either place a firm offer on the table or walk away.

When you consider that National Express is well over £1 billion in debt and struggling to raise finance to reduce this figure there are many who believe the company is ripe for the taking. Initially there had been an indicative 450p a share offer on the table although this was since increased to 500p but has yet to be made formal.

After being one of the leaders of the UK travel industry for some time, National Express has experienced a very difficult period over the last two years. Over expansion just prior to the ongoing UK recession, an increase in investment requirements and reduction in customer numbers have come together to squeeze the company from all sides. The debt pile also continues to rise and is proving to be a significant concern for shareholders, directors and the company's bankers.

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