Aussies swoop on Go-Ahead after frenzied bidding war for the London bus and Thameslink operator
An overseas predator has snapped up the operator of London buses for £648million.
Go-Ahead Group last night accepted the offer from a consortium led by Australian rival Kinetic, after it found itself at the centre of a bidding frenzy.
Another Australian group, Kelsian, had also made an offer, Go-Ahead revealed yesterday.
All aboard: Go-Ahead Group last night accepted a £648m offer from a consortium led by Australian rival Kinetic and Spanish outfit Globalvia Inversiones
The Newcastle-based transport business did not reveal the value of Kelsian’s bid, but said earlier in the day that it could side with either suitor.
Hopes of a takeover battle pushed the share price up to 1360p.
But later in the day, after the stock market closed, Go-Ahead – which also operates Govia Thameslink Railway, which comprises Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern and Thameslink – accepted a 1500p per share bid from Kinetic and Spanish outfit Globalvia Inversiones.
Its capitulation makes it the latest in a string of companies to be sold since the pandemic began.
Others have included the likes of Morrisons, Asda and G4S – leading to accusations of ‘pandemic plundering’ as the share prices of companies slid during Covid.
There has been a wave of takeover interest in the UK transport sector as the recovery from Covid-19, and a push to cut car use due to rising fuel prices and climate change concerns, have made the industry attractive for buyers.
Firms have also been boosted by governments offering longer-term contracts to run bus and rail networks, offering stability of income for investors.
Last week, Aberdeen-based bus and train operator First Group rebuffed a £1.2billion takeover approach from US private equity firm I Squared Capital after deciding the proposal ‘significantly under-valued’ the company.
In March, transport group Stagecoach was snapped up by German asset manager DWS in a £595million deal that scuppered a planned merger with rival National Express.