Australians rush transport company Go-Ahead after frantic bidding war

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Australians give green light after frantic bidding war for London bus and operator Thameslink

A foreign predator has snapped up the London bus operator for £648million.

Go-Ahead Group accepted a bid from a consortium led by Australian rival Kinetic last night after finding themselves at the center of a bidding frenzy.

Another Australian band, Kelsian, had also made an offer, Go-Ahead revealed yesterday.

All aboard: Go-Ahead Group last night accepted a £648million bid from a consortium led by Australian rival Kinetic and Spanish firm Globalvia Inversiones

The Newcastle-based transport company did not reveal the value of Kelsian’s offer, but said earlier today it could side with either suitor.

Hopes of a battle for control pushed the stock price to 1360p.

But later that day, after the stock market closed, Go-Ahead – which also operates Govia Thameslink Railway, which includes Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern and Thameslink – accepted an offer of 1500p per share from Kinetic and the Spanish company Globalvia Inversiones.

Its capitulation makes it the latest in a series of companies to be sold since the start of the pandemic.

Others have included Morrisons, Asda and G4S – leading to accusations of ‘pandemic looting’ as companies’ share prices slipped during Covid.

There has been a wave of interest in controlling the UK transport sector as the recovery from Covid-19 and a push to reduce car use due to rising fuel prices and concerns related to climate change have made the industry attractive to buyers.

Business has also been boosted by governments offering longer-term contracts to operate bus and rail networks, providing income stability for investors.

Last week, Aberdeen-based bus and train operator First Group pushed back on an approaching £1.2bn takeover of US private equity firm I Squared Capital after deciding the proposal “under -considerably valued” the company.

In March, transport group Stagecoach was bought by German asset manager DWS in a £595million deal that scuttled a planned merger with rival National Express.

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