National Express Group PLC
3 July 2000
NATIONAL EXPRESS GROUP PLC
Settlement of US Litigation
In June 1998 National Express Group ('National Express') announced that
Atlantic Express Transportation Group Inc. ('Atlantic'), a New York-based
student transportation operator, had commenced legal proceedings in New York
for compensatory and punitive damages for an amount potentially in excess of
$75 million (£50 million).
Atlantic claimed that confidential information gained as part of a due
diligence process was used by National Express to acquire Crabtree-Harmon
Corporation ('Crabtree-Harmon'), a school bus company, in 1998. National
Express has consistently maintained that the information was not used and had
no bearing on its acquisition of Crabtree-Harmon.
National Express has been involved in protracted discussions with Atlantic and
its legal representatives concerning this claim for the last two years. It is
now in a position to assess the risks to which the Group would be exposed if
it pursued its defence further. Against a background of the potential for very
high levels of damages and - with the case about to go to trial - the
unpredictability of being tried by a jury, National Express has reluctantly
decided, with no admission of liability, to pay Atlantic the sum of
$24.5 million (£15.6 million) in full and final settlement of the claim.
Phil White, Chief Executive of National Express, said:
'It is now two years since Atlantic lodged its claim. During this time we have
invested almost $600 million (£400 million) on eight acquisitions in the US
transportation industry and established ourselves as a leading public
transport operator employing over 16,000 people.
We have consistently maintained that Atlantic's allegations are unfounded and
continue to do so. However, we have concluded that it is not in the interests
of our shareholders to expose the Group to the considerable risks involved in
allowing this case to go to trial - in the plaintiff's home state - before a
jury which has the power to award excessive punitive damages. We needed to end
the uncertainty which this case has created and believe this settlement is the
only prudent way to draw a line under the matter once and for all.
The settlement has no effect on the ongoing operations of our US Group, which
continues to perform in line with expectations.'
For further information:
Phil White, Chief Executive
Helen McCorry, Group Communications Manager
National Express Group 020 7529 2000
Nicola Marsden/Steve Jacobs
Financial Dynamics 020 7831 3113