National Express pressed to change

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A second major shareholder in travel group National Express is understood to have backed radical plans to shake up the coach and train operator.

The Spanish Cosmen family, which owns 17.4 per cent of National Express, will back recent moves by United States hedge fund Elliott Advisors to install three directors of its own choice and shift the direction of the group, reports said.

American hedge fund Elliott, which owns 17.5 per cent of National, is meeting investors to garner support for options that would see the bus and coach operator tie-up with another UK rival such as Stagecoach, refocus on the US or sell-off part of the business.

Elliott Advisors needs the support of 50 per cent of National Express shareholders to push through its proposals at the annual general meeting, which takes place next month.

It is proposing three main options – to consider a merger, expand US operations away from the under-pressure UK and European market, or sell assets, which it believes will raise more than the company’s current value.