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NatEx sells London bus business

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NATIONAL Express is pulling out of London - for the second time - with the agreement to sell its Travel London business to NedRailways, a subsidiary of NS Dutch Railways. The agreement is subject to the consent of Transport for London and is expected to be completed shortly.

NatEx is selling the operation, which employs 1,600 people and operates 450 vehicles, for £32.0million on a cash and debt-free basis. The gross assets of the business at 31 December 2008 were £35.9million and the profit before interest and taxation for the 12 months to 31 December was £3.9million. NatEx will use the proceeds of the sale to reduce its existing borrowings.

Richard Bowker, NatEx chief executive, says: “As part of our 'self-help' programme to strengthen the group's balance sheet, we have concluded the sale of our stand alone London bus business.” The company’s staff and management are staying with the business.

Travel London operates 36 TfL tendered routes in London and a further 30 for Surrey county council and Kingston University. It operates from six depots in Walworth, Battersea, Twickenham, Beddington, Hayes and Byfleet.
The current Travel London business was formed in 2004, following the acquisition by NatEx of Connex Bus. In 2005, the business was expanded with the takeover of Tellings-Golden Miller's London and Surrey bus operations.

There was a previous Travel London, which operated from 1998 to 2000, when it was sold by NatEx, first to Limebourne and then, in 2001 to Connex. Before that NatEx predecessor West Midlands Travel ran buses in London between 1994 and 1996.

NedRailways existing UK transport interests are two rail franchises in the north of England – Merseyrail and Northern Rail. It has bus operations in Germany and the Czech Republic.

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