Teamsters Say Devaney Decision Creates Leadership Problem for National Express Group

Jan 26, 2010, 15:29 ET from International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Chairman Should Devote Full Attention To National Express

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa denounced today National Express Group PLC Chairman John Devaney's decision to join Cobham PLC's board as chairman designate given his ongoing responsibilities at the embattled transport company.

Devaney has been acting chief executive of U.K.-based National Express Group PLC since former CEO Richard Bowker's abrupt resignation in July 2009. Devaney will relinquish his executive responsibilities at National Express Group PLC this spring when Dean Finch becomes CEO, but is expected to remain chairman. The Teamsters Union represents members at National Express Group's North American subsidiaries, Durham School Services in the United States and Stock Transportation in Canada.

"National Express Group has faced extraordinary challenges over the past year and significant hurdles remain," Hoffa said. "Devaney will play a key role in navigating the company through the leadership transition this spring and in overseeing Dean Finch and his management team as National Express Group moves forward. Now is not the time for him to take on additional leadership roles that could distract him from his responsibilities at National Express Group."

After fending off several takeover attempts, overcoming a bitter and public boardroom dispute, and completing a 360 million-pound rights issue, National Express Group is still shouldering a 1 billion-pound debt and faces the loss of its East Coast rail franchise -- its most significant business contract -- with the retention of the two remaining rail franchises still in doubt.

"As National Express Group transitions to new executive leadership and positions itself for the future, it is critical that the board of directors have a chairman who is focused on improving the company's operational performance and leading the board in rigorous strategic oversight," said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer C. Thomas Keegel. "We're concerned that Chairman Devaney's new leadership role on Cobham's board could impact his ability to give National Express Group the time and focus required to meet the challenges ahead."

Cobham announced on Jan. 22 that Devaney will join its board as chairman designate effective Feb. 1 and will become Cobham's non-executive chairman at the conclusion of the company's annual general meeting on May 6.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents over 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters