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Major shareholder buys more shares in National Express

National Express, the troubled UK transport company, has today confirmed that major shareholder the Cosmen family has increased its stake in the business after the investment of a further £5.8 million into National Express shares. This brings the family shareholding to 20% as we await confirmation of future refinancing plans from the group.

It is known that the Cosmen family disagree with the idea of a rights issue and have instead asked the board of directors to reconsider a potential merger with Stagecoach or a full refinancing of the company's debt. However, while a 20% shareholding is a substantial stake in the business it does not give the Cosmen family enough voting rights to block the proposed rights issue without the backing of significant institutional investors.

Despite the fact that the National Express saga has been ongoing for some time, we do not appear anywhere nearer to a resolution at the moment. However, this is a situation which needs to be resolved before the end of 2009 as the company could be hit with a multi-million pound interest penalty on its substantial debt pile if the amounted owed has not been reduced. This is an issue which is sure to focus the minds of all investors as well as the National Express board of directors!

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