National Express finally close in on new CEO

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The Independent Online

Dean Finch is likely to decide within the next week whether he will accept an offer to become the next chief executive of indebted transport group National Express, which has been without a boss since July.

Mr Finch has been chief executive of Tube Lines, the group responsible for maintenance on the London Underground, for the last six months. Tube Lines is likely to try and keep Mr Finch, a former chief operating officer of bus and rail operator FirstGroup.

National Express, which two weeks ago won the support of shareholders for a £360m rights issue, has been looking for a chief executive since Richard Bowker resigned to take a better paid job in the Middle East. News of his departure came on the same day that the group handed back the East Coast mainline to the Government after deciding that the franchise was insufficiently profitable.

National Express has spent much of the last six months fire fighting after two takeover bids for the group stumbled, before its biggest shareholder, Spain’s Cosmen family, initially said that they would not back a rights issue, which the group had said was crucial for its future. Jorge Cosmen, the company’s deputy chairman, campaigned against the cash call on the grounds that the equity-raising exercise was too big, and that the company’s strategy was wrong.

Fears that the Government would re-nationalise National Express’s two profitable rail franchises, C2C and East Anglia, have receded after Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, said that he would consider the issue only in 2011.

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