TROUBLED train and bus operator National Express has taken on a new chief executive to steer its recovery.
National Express, which has completed a controversial £360m cash call, said Dean Finch, the chief executive of London Underground contractor Tube Lines, will take up his post early next spring.
National Express will hope Finch, who worked for more than 10 years with rival FirstGroup, will bring stability to the company after a string of problems.
The operator, which runs the East Anglia and C2C rail franchises, coaches and local buses, has hit problems in trying to cut its £1.1bn debt.
The group’s planned rights issue faced resistance from its largest shareholder, Spain’s Cosmen family, which accused the firm of lacking a credible long-term strategy and threatened to boycott the fund-raising.
The Cosmens, who lifted their stake in the firm to nearly 20 per cent to block the rights issue, eventually backed it with a £74m cash injection.
National Express has surrendered its East Coast rail franchise after falling passenger numbers in the recession left it unable to afford to run the route.
DEAN Finch is likely to need to draw heavily on his transport expertise to put struggling National Express back on track.
Before joining Tube Lines, Finch worked for more than 10 years in senior roles at FirstGroup. He was managing director of its rail division from 2000-2004 and then joined the company’s main board as group commercial director in 2004, before becoming finance director.
After FirstGroup bought US transport firm Laidlaw, which runs the iconic Greyhound buses, Finch became North American chief operating officer and oversaw Laidlaw’s integration before returning to Britain as chief operating officer.
Finch appears to be swapping one hot-seat for another by joining National Express from controversial Public Private Partnership (PPP) Tube contractor Tube Lines.
Tube Lines has hit the headlines over concerns about delays to crucial upgrade work on the Jubilee Line, one of three Underground lines it conducts the maintenance for.