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Cosmen family looking to improve bid after rejection

The Cosmen family and the private equity group CVC, who are attempting to takeover the distressed UK transport group National Express, are looking for ways to improve their takeover bid after a second offer was rejected.

The bid was tabled last week and offered 450p-pre-share for the transport group. (Click here to read our coverage of the story) However, National Express rejected the offer stating it undervalued the company. Main shareholders were also said to be unhappy with the conditions placed on the bid.

Changes to the offer could include removing some of the conditions and increasing the amount of cash used to purchase the company. The potential revisions suggest the family is keen to gain control of National Express, which would also mean they regain control of the Cosmen family business, Alsa, sold to National Express in 2005.

Jorge Cosmen, deputy chairman of National Express and also the group's largest shareholder, first launched a takeover bid in July. (Click here to read our coverage of the story) This is the second bid the group has rejected from the Spain-based Cosmen consortium.

National Express is attempting to press ahead with a £350 million rights issue in order to remain independent, another setback for the family bid. (Click here to read our coverage of the story) "We believe that we can create more value for shareholders by remaining independent and refinancing the group," said executive chairman John Devaney.

The Cosmen family first became involved with the transport group in 2005 when National Express purchased the family coach business, Alsa. As part of the sale the Cosmens gained a 10% stake in National Express and have since increased its holding to 18.5%.

Jorge Cosmen remains chairman of Alsa, which was founded in 1923 and expanded greatly by Jorge's father Pepe. Jorge and his seven siblings all remain directly involved with the family business empire that now includes hotel holdings, car dealerships and property and agriculture ventures alongside transport. 

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