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Monday 18 September, 2000

Dept.Trade&Industry

Statement re NEG/Prism Rail

Dept Trade & Industry
18 September 2000


  PROPOSED ACQUISITION BY NATIONAL EXPRESS GROUP PLC OF
                     PRISM RAIL PLC
                     
Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry,
announced today that he intends to seek from National
Express Group Plc ('NEG') undertakings to remedy competition
concerns arising from its proposed acquisition of Prism Rail
Plc.  This is in accordance with the advice of the Director
General of Fair Trading ('DGFT').

Mr Byers said:

'This proposed purchase raises concerns in the market for
rail and coach services between London and Stansted Airport.
If it went ahead, NEG would have a monopoly of such
services, which may allow it to raise the prices and reduce
the quality of coach services on the route.  I therefore
agree with the DGFT's advice that NEG should give
undertakings with respect to the price and quality of its
coach services on the London-Stansted route.  I have asked
the DGFT to seek such undertakings and to report further by
16 October 2000.'

Interested parties are invited to make their views known on
the appropriateness of these measures to remedy the adverse
effects of the merger.  Representations should be made to
the Office of Fair Trading by 2 October 2000.


Notes to Editors

1.   Section 75G of the Fair Trading Act 1973 (inserted by
section 147 of the Companies Act 1989 and amended by the
Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994) enables the
Secretary of State to accept undertakings as an alternative
to making a merger reference to the Competition Commission.
The Secretary of State must consider whether such
undertakings remedy or prevent adverse effects of the merger
specified by the DGFT.

2.   Interested parties wishing to make representations on
the contents and scope of the undertakings which should be
offered by NEG should do so in writing by 5pm on 2 October
2000 to Mike Potts, Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House,
2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX (Fax: 020 7211 8916).