National Express names new CEO

National Express trains wait at the platform at King's Cross station in London July 1, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - National Express NEX.L has appointed Dean Finch, the boss of London Underground contractor Tube Lines, as its chief executive, ending a six month search for a CEO.

“I am delighted to welcome Dean to National Express. He has a proven track record of improving operational performance and delivering financial success in bus, coach and rail businesses,” John Devaney, the group’s executive chairman said on Wednesday.

Before joining Tube Lines, Finch -- who will join National Express in the spring of 2010 -- worked for over 10 years in senior roles at rival bus and rail operator FirstGroup FGP.L and was managing director of its rail division before becoming its chief operating officer.

Finch has only been the boss of Tube Lines, a joint venture between Spanish group Ferrovial FER.MC and U.S.-based Bechtel, for seven months and helped steer it through a difficult time in its contract with London Underground.

Former National Express chief executive Richard Bowker quit the company in July.

Shares in National Express, which have shed a quarter of their value in the last three months, were 1.3 percent up at 184.80 pence by 11:00 a.m. British time, valuing the business at around 955 million pounds.

The company on Tuesday completed the 360 million pound rights issue it needs to cut debt and restructure.

Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Victoria Bryan