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National Express (NEX)

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Friday 27 April, 2007

National Express


National Express Group PLC
27 April 2007

Friday 27 April 2007

For immediate release

                           National Express Group PLC

 National Express acquires Continental Auto for £449.7 million (€659.3 million)
in cash and consolidates its position as one of Spain's leading public transport

National Express Group PLC ('National Express' or 'the Group') is pleased to
announce that it has agreed to acquire Continental Auto SL ('Continental Auto'),
a leading operator of public transport services in Spain, from Grupo ACS 
('ACS'), for £449.7 million (€659.3 million) in cash to be funded from a
combination of its existing bank facility and a new committed bank facility. The
transaction, which is expected to be earnings enhancing for the Group on a
normalised basis in its first full year, is expected to complete before the end
of 2007.

 Transaction highlights

*  The transaction consolidates the Group's position as a leader in the
   Spanish public transport market, following the acquisition of Alsa in 
   December 2005;

*  Continental Auto, headquartered in Madrid, is a highly respected,
   well established coach and bus operator. Its extensive North-South long 
   distance coach network complements Alsa's existing operations;

*  Continental Auto's Regional, Commuter and Urban networks
   significantly enhance Alsa's presence in these attractive markets. 
   Continental Auto provides access to the key Andalucian and Catalonian 
   regions, as well as operating bus concessions in Madrid and Almeria;

*  Continental Auto has a strong financial track record, delivering
   double-digit margins and excellent cash flow generation, underpinned by
   long-term, predictable concessions maturing between 2013 and 2028; and

*  Continental Auto has made significant investment in its modern fleet
   of 860 buses and coaches with an average age of 4.4 years.

On completion, National Express will have more than 2,100 vehicles in Spain and
carry more than 142 million passengers per year.  The combination of Continental
Auto's and Alsa's networks will create a comprehensive national presence. This
offers the opportunity to integrate the operational excellence of Alsa and the
customer offering of the Group's UK coach operations across the broader
Continental Auto product range.

Spain is one of the largest and fastest growing European public transport
markets. This market is expected to show strong growth driven by continued
investment in infrastructure including the roll-out of significant numbers of
dedicated bus lanes, assisted by favourable political policy initiatives towards
public transport. Continental Auto's growing Commuter network will be further
enhanced by Madrid's new high occupancy vehicle lanes, expected to be completed
in 2009. Continental Auto currently operates in 11 regions, 29 provincial
capitals and 2,600 municipalities. In an increasingly liberalised market, the
Group will be uniquely positioned to participate in this growth.

Completion of the acquisition is subject to approval by the Spanish competition

In the year to 31 December 2006 Continental Auto generated total revenues of
£134.0 million (€196.5 million) and profit before tax of £18.6 million (€27.3
million). As at 31 December 2006, Continental Auto had gross assets of £224.6
million (€329.3 million) and net assets of £143.0 million (€209.7 million). As
part of the transaction, the Group will assume existing Continental Auto net
debt. This was £14.1 million (€20.7 million) as at 31 December 2006.

Commenting on the transaction, Richard Bowker, Chief Executive of the National
Express Group said:  'Continental Auto is a quality business and we are
delighted that it will join the Group. This transaction fits perfectly with our
stated strategy of utilising our strong balance sheet to acquire businesses in
our core markets where our unparalleled management skills and experience can be
applied. We anticipate significant growth opportunities in our Spanish business
in 2007 and beyond. This transaction will reinforce our position as a leading
provider in the Spanish public transport market. We look forward to working with
all stakeholders to deliver the highest quality services to our customers.'

National Express has been advised on this transaction by Merrill Lynch

Trading Update

The Group has also released today a separate statement on current trading.

                                   - E ND S -

For further information, please contact:

National Express Group PLC                                     +44 20 7529 2000
Richard Bowker, Chief Executive

Adam Walker, Finance Director
Nicola Marsden, Director of Group Communications

Maitland                                                       +44 20 7379 5151
Neil Bennett/Suzanne Bartch/Brian Hudspith

Merrill Lynch International                                    +44 20 7628 1000
Kevin J. Smith, Investment Banking
Justin Anstee, Investment Banking
Simon Fraser, Corporate Broking
Andrew Osborne, Corporate Broking

Notes to Editors

  • There will be a conference call for research analysts and investors at 09:
    00 (BST) today, 27 April 2007.  For details please contact Rebecca Mitchell
    at Maitland on +44 20 7379 5151.  Copies of the presentation will be
    available from our website
  • Euro exchange rate used is £1:€1.4660.

The statements that the transaction is expected to be earnings enhancing on a
normalised basis in its first full year do not constitute a profit forecast and
should not be interpreted to mean that earnings for those years or any
subsequent financial period would necessarily be greater than those for any
preceding financial period.

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