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National Express set to feel more pain

It has been revealed that the Cosmen family, the largest individual shareholders in National Express, have been discussing various issues with leading investors and trying to drum up support for a reassessment of company's terminated merger talks with Stagecoach. As we covered yesterday, there is very strong investor opinion with regard to the re-opening of potential talks with Stagecoach, although the management of National Express did walk away citing a potential delay in concluding any offer.

Whether further pressure from leading investors will lead to a change of heart by the directors remains to be seen but whatever happens with National Express it needs to happen in the very short term. The company is over £1 billion in debt, stands on the verge of a £5 million penalty interest charge in December and would appear to have lost the confidence of leading investors. The situation is coming to a head and there is concern about how the company's bankers would react if merger talks with Stagecoach are terminated indefinitely.

Only a few months ago there was talk of a fundraising to raise around £400 million but support has reduced among shareholders and the company may well have its hands full trying to drum up enough support to get a fundraising off the ground.

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