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Cosmen family fails to stop National Express rights issue

The Cosmen family, the largest shareholders in the indebted UK transport group National Express, failed to gain enough support to prevent a £360 million rights issue, which was given the go-ahead today. 

At an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders held in London this morning, 66.8% voted in favour of the rights issue, which required at least 50% support to be passed.

Jorge Cosmen (pictured), deputy chairman of National Express and the family's representative on the board, made it clear last month that the family did not support the rights issue, suggesting instead the board look further into the proposed merger with rival transport company Stagecoach. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)

John Devaney, chairman of National Express, said: "There has been some debate in the media about the rights issue and some alternative proposals put forward by one of our directors. However, the board of directors, with the exception of Jorge Cosmen, is satisfied that proceeding with the rights issue is the most appropriate course of action."

There has been much media speculation during the last month over the commitment of the Cosmen family to National Express and Jorge Cosmen was forced to deny rumours he was planning to resign over the family's position. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)

In response, the family increased its stake in National Express three times during the week preceding the rights issue vote in order to show the family is a "committed and long-term shareholder in National Express," according to a family spokesperson on Tuesday.

The family has yet to reveal if it will subscribe to the rights issue, as, despite not supporting the move, not participating would cost the family its seat on the board due to the subsequent dilution of its shareholding. 

The Cosmen family first became involved with the transport group in 2005 when National Express purchased the Cosmen family coach business, Alsa. As part of the deal the Cosmens gained a 10% stake in National Express and have since increased their holding to just under 20%. 

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