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Wednesday 14 September, 2005

Competition Commissn

Nat Exp/Thameslink issues

Competition Commission
14 September 2005


News Release

58/05                         14 September 2005


             NATIONAL EXPRESS THAMESLINK AND GREAT NORTHERN INQUIRY

                              Statement of issues


The Competition Commission (CC) has today published an issues statement as part
of its inquiry into the anticipated acquisition by National Express Group plc
(NEG) of the Thameslink and Great Northern (TGN) rail franchise.

The CC has been asked to consider whether the acquisition may be expected to
result in a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of passenger
transport services.

NEG currently operates the Gatwick Express, Greater Anglia, Midland Mainline and
Silverlink train franchises as well as a network of coach services. NEG is one
of five shortlisted bidders for the TGN franchise.

The inquiry group intends to concentrate principally on the effect of the merger
on overlapping rail and coach services between London and:

  • Luton, Luton Airport and Bedford
  • Gatwick Airport

The issues statement follows the initial process of gathering information, views
and evidence and identifies clearly for all interested parties the specific
questions and areas the inquiry will be examining. This will form the basis for
the hearings with NEG and other interested parties. The full issues statement is
available at:

www.competition-commission.org.uk/inquiries/ref2005/neg/index.htm

A map of rail services serving London and the South East including the routes in
question is available at: www.nationalrail.co.uk/system/galleries/download/
print_maps/LxSE_May_x05.pdf

If the Group considers that the merger may be expected to result in a
substantial lessening of competition, it will consider whether and, if so, what
remedies might be appropriate, issuing any remedies statement, should this be
required, at about the time it publishes its provisional findings.

The issues statement should not be seen as implying that the Group has
identified any competition concerns - the CC has yet to reach any conclusions on
this inquiry. The purpose of making the statement of issues public is to inform
all interested parties and give them an opportunity to raise any further points
with the CC. The CC would like to hear from all interested parties, in writing,
by 28 September 2005. To submit evidence, please write to:

          Nigel Dorling
          Inquiry Secretary (National Express/Thameslink)
          Competition Commission
          Victoria House
          Southampton Row
          LONDON WC1B 4AD

or email:  nigel.dorling@competition-commission.gsi.gov.uk.

The CC will now continue to gather evidence in this inquiry and will publish its
provisional findings according to the administrative timetable available on the
CC web site.

Notes for editors

1.         The acquisition of a rail franchise is treated as a merger under the
Railways Act 1993.

2.         The inquiry was referred to the CC by the Office of Fair Trading
(OFT) on 3 August 2005. The CC is required to publish its final report by 17
January 2006.

3.         The Enterprise Act 2002 empowers the OFT to refer to the CC completed
or proposed mergers for investigation and report which create or enhance a 25
per cent share of supply in the UK (or a substantial part thereof) or where the
UK turnover associated with the enterprise being acquired is over £70 million.

4.         The NEG/Thameslink Inquiry Group consists of four members: Diane
Coyle (Group Chairman), Ivar Grey, Jeremy Peat and Peter Stoddart.

5.         Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor or Francis Royle on 020
7271 0242 or rory.taylor@competition-commission.gsi.gov.uk or
francis.royle@competiton-commission.gsi.gov.uk


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange