First-Group and Stagecoach are looking into a bid for merging National Express after the Cosmen family from Spain was unsuccessful at achieving a £746m consortium bid.

Stagecoach was reported to have sent a letter to the board of National Express looking for support, but a spokesman for the company last night said that it is policy never to comment on speculation or rumours.

Under terms of the suspended Cosmen deal, Stagecoach would have owned the National Express’s c2c and East Anglian franchises.