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Cosmen family withdraws National Express bid

The Spain-based Cosmen family has withdrawn its bid for UK-transport company National Express after a month of due diligence.
The family, National Express's largest shareholder, instead supports further fundraising by the company. "The Cosmen family has now confirmed its intention to support the group's plans to undertake an equity fundraising within certain parameters that the Cosmen family has communicated to the board of National Express," a statement said. It is not yet clear what those conditions are.
The family, along with private equity group CVC Capital Partners, has been in negotiations to purchase the company since July and has already had several offers rejected for being too low. (Click here to read our coverage of the takeover saga)
The most recent bid saw the family and CVC offer 500 pence per share for National Express in September. The consortium was then given two weeks to inspect accounts and perform due diligence. However, when the 25 September deadline arrived both sides agreed to extend the deadline until 5pm today.
The takeover bid was not popular with some of National Express's other shareholders and in August the company announced it was considering a £350 million rights issue as an alternative to the Cosmen family bid. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)
The Cosmen family first become 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 holdings to 18.5%. Jorge Cosmen (pictured) is deputy chairman of National Express and remains chairman of Alsa.
National Express is struggling under the weight of £1.2 billion of debt after making cash acquisitions of both Alsa and another Spanish coach operator Continental Auto.

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