Red light for National Express dividends

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The Independent Online

National Express slashed its dividend by 40 per cent yesterday in an attempt to cut net debt that rose to £1.2bn in 2008, from £910m the year before.

Richard Bowker, the chief executive, said the move would save the company £30m.

"The transport industry is not immune from wider economic conditions and we are taking appropriate actions to ensure that National Express comes through the current recession resiliently," he said.

The company's rail business is the major concern, and Mr Bowker is in talks with the Government about escalating franchise costs as passenger numbers fall. The group has already axed 750 jobs, and yesterday refused to rule out further redundancies.