A giant American hedge fund yesterday claimed a huge victory in its attempt to get backing for a coup at National Express. New York investor Elliott Advisors said Spain's Cosmen family - major shareholders in the coach and bus operator - supported its move for a boardroom shake-up.
This makes it more likely Elliott will get its way and hand-pick three new directors for the board at the firm's AGM next month. It threatens another row over the influence of "greedy" hedge funds on corporate Britain. Elliott was founded by billionaire Paul Singer, a former donor to ex-US President George W Bush.
An industry source told Sun City: "They feel National Express has done a great job under chief exec Dean Finch... But now they think that the group are not being ambitious enough about where they take the business over the medium term."
National Express has returned to form after having to hand back the East Coast rail franchise to the Government in 2009 after huge losses. In February it unveiled a 38 per cent leap in annual profits. But the firm was not even shortlisted for the new East Anglia rail franchise, despite being the current operator.
Elliott and the Cosmens each hold 17.5 per cent of National Express shares. National Express last night urged other shareholders to stand by management.