UK's National Express to the be Morocco's largest transport operator in £883m deal
National Express has clinched a major deal in Morocco worth 1 billion euro (£883 million), helping it to become the country's largest transport operator.
The 500-bus contract will cover the cities of Rabat, Sale and Temara, and is expected to carry 109 million passengers annually across 61 routes.
The contract will initially run for 15 years, with an option for a seven-year extension, over which time National Express is expected to rake in 1 billion euro (£883 million) in revenue.
The services will begin running within the next year.
The contract was awarded to National Express's Spanish and Moroccan division ASLA, which will operate the contract as the majority shareholder in a joint venture with local transport firm CityBus.
It is the fifth local contract for National Express, having first managed urban transport in Marrakech in 1999.
National Express has since won contracts to serve the cities of Agadir in 2010, Tangier in 2013 and Khourigba in 2015.
The company will become the largest transport operator in Morocco in the wake of the latest deal.
Chief executive Dean Finch said: "I am delighted we have secured this major new bus contract in Morocco.
"We have been steadily growing our presence in Morocco as part of our strategy to expand in rapidly growing urban areas, helping to diversify our earnings."
"It is particularly pleasing that our track record for service excellence in Morocco played a significant part in this successful bid. We hope to build on this success and secure further expansion in the coming years."
More than three-quarters of National Express revenues are now gained from operations abroad, having bolstered its international presence in recent years.
It is already the largest public transport operator in Spain, and operates nearly 25,000 vehicles in North America, including school buses, transit and employee shuttles.
The company also recently entered the German and Swiss markets.
National Express shares jumped 1.1% at the start of trading.
Main photo by David Parody