Breaking pre-market news on Tuesday,
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“Forget the shorts”, as FT Alphaville noted on Friday. Company and financial bond issuance has virtually collapsed in Europe in recent weeks amid fears over the eurozone’s public debt problems and US financial reforms.
As the FT reported on Monday, the market for new issues effectively shut down after Germany spooked investors with its decision to slap a ban on naked short selling. New issues from companies and banks fell to $1.1bn last week, the lowest of the year, according to Dealogic. Read more
Breaking pre-market news on Tuesday,
- Deutsche Bank says needs moderate capital market refinancing in 2010, overall loan loss provisions expected to decline in 2010 – Reuters Read more
National Express is close to appointing Dean Finch, the boss of London Underground maintenance company Tube Lines, as its chief executive, ending months of uncertainty at the troubled bus and rail operator, the FT said. An announcement of the appointment of Mr Finch, a former chief operating officer of rival bus and rail operator FirstGroup, could come within days.
Transactions involving companies sharing board members perform significantly better than other deals, according to a study published earlier this year by researchers at the University of North Carolina. Read more
The Cosmen family, the biggest shareholder in National Express, has increased its shareholding in the UK transport group ahead of a Friday vote that will decide whether NatEx’s £360m rights issue goes ahead. Jorge Cosmen, deputy chairman, opposes the cash-raising exercise, warning it should only proceed in conjunction with a refinancing, possibly including the sale of some NatEx assets. The Cosmens on Monday bought an additional 750,000 shares in the company, raising the stake to 19.46% after increasing its holding to 18.96% on Friday.
National Express will launch a £370m-£375m rights issue on Wednesday, drawing a line under weeks of speculation over the bus and rail operator’s future. The cash-raising exercise will be fully underwritten, with Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley taking the lead. The shares will be issued at a 40% discount to the ex-rights price – in line with standard practice. But it remained uncertain whether the Cosmen family, NatEx’s top shareholder with 19%, would back the issue.
National Express, the debt-laden UK bus and rail operator, has withdrawn from talks with rival Stagecoach about a possible merger and will press ahead with a rights issue. The development follows weeks of speculation over a possible tie-up between the two. But NatEx, which issued a profits warning last week, on Wednesday night announced it would press ahead with an equity fundraising, which it expects to complete by Christmas. Analysts say the rights issue could be worth £300m-£350m.
National Express, the debt-laden UK bus and rail operator, will decide on a merger proposal from rival Stagecoach within the next few days, after its board met on Monday. Stagecoach has proposed that NatEx take up to 40% of a merged group, estimated to be worth £1.7bn. NatEx said it remained open to an agreement although it would proceed with plans for an emergency rights issue. Its shares rose 10% to 400p on Monday, after diving almost 30% on Friday when a consortium led by Spain’s Cosmen family abandoned a £765m offer that valued the group at 500p a share.
The Spanish-led consortium bidding for National Express is set to withdraw its £765m takeover offer for the UK bus and rail operator, dealing a blow to the company’s biggest shareholder. Buy-out firm CVC, and the Cosmen family, which owns an 18.5% stake, faced a Friday deadline for a formal bid for National Express, following the UK Takeover Panel’s move to extend its “put up or shut up” deadline from Sept 11. But the consortium is understood to have had concerns over the terms of the refinancing of NatExpress’s borrowings, including a £490m loan maturing in September 2010.
The Spanish-led consortium bidding for UK rail and bus operator National Express is seeking an extension of the official deadline for making its bid, worth £765m, which expires at 5pm on Friday. The UK Takeover Panel has already extended the “put up or shut up” deadline from Sept 11. But the Spanish Cosmen family, which owns an 18.6% stake in National Express, and US buyout group CVC are expected to ask for a third extension to enable more due diligence.
The consortium bidding for troubled UK bus and train operator National Express on Thursday increased the cash on offer by more than 10% to 500p a share or £765m and resolved several issues surrounding Stagecoach Group’s planned takeover of NatExpress’s rail business. The shareholders felt the previous offer by the consortium of Spain’s Cosmen family and CVC Capital Partners – of 450p a share, valuing the equity at £696m – undervalued the company. NatExpress shares jumped 54p or 13% to 465p.
Key shareholders in National Express, the troubled UK train and bus operator, have signalled they will not back a revised all-cash 450p takeover offer from the group’s largest investor and stick by the management’s alternative plans for a rights issue. The Cosmen family, which holds 18.5% of NatExpress, and buyout group CVC tabled a bid valuing the group at about £600m on Thursday. The NatExpress board is to meet next week to evaluate the offer, which represents a 63% premium to the pre-bid share price.
National Express, the indebted UK bus and rail operator at the centre of a takeover battle, sought to regain the initiative on Monday by demanding details of plans from a Spanish-led consortium and potential bidder Stagecoach. The move suggests that National Express remains open to a bid by the consortium – made up of its largest shareholder, the Cosmen family, and buyout firm CVC – but that it is concerned about the conditions attached.
Troubled UK transport group National Express is this week set to reject a takeover bid from Spain’s Cosmen family and CVC private equity group, rebuffing an approach that was expected to value the group at more than £500m. National Express will argue at its interim results on Thursday that its plans for an independent future, including cutting costs and paying down debt, offer better value than either of the preliminary approaches it has received.
National Express on Wednesday night revealed that it had received a second takeover approach after FirstGroup, the initial bidder, walked away from the company, citing uncertainties surrounding its rival’s business. National Express refused to name the new bidder and said its intentions were “not yet known”, the FT reported. The Times, citing transport industry sources, said the mystery bidder was Stagecoach. News of the approach came shortly after FirstGroup ruled out making a formal offer for the company.
The UK transport secretary Lord Adonis on Wednesday signalled the end of National Express’s hopes of running a big rail business after the government announced it would nationalise the struggling operator’s East Coast rail franchise. The move underlines the fall of National Express, the UK’s largest train operator for most of the decade from privatisation until 2006. Richard Bowker, who on Wednesday announced his resignation as chief executive, was appointed in 2006 mainly to win new rail business.
Richard Bowker, chief executive of National Express, the struggling UK bus and rail operator, on Tuesday night announced his resignation just hours before a crucial trading statement. Bowker is set on Wednesday to update the market on the company’s lossmaking East Coast rail franchise. His resignation came days after National Express, which is wrestling with a £1.2bn debt pile, confirmed it had rejected an all-share takeover approach from rival FirstGroup.