Go-Ahead goes ahead with takeover deal worth £650m

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The board is backing a bid by a consortium comprising Australia’s Kinetic Holding Company and Spain-based infrastructure firm Globalvia.

The 1,500p-a-share offer represented a premium of 10.2 per cent to Go-Ahead’s closing price.

It came at the end of a day in which the firm first revealed the approach by two suitors.

The other was Australian transport firm Kelsian.

Founded more than 44 years ago, Kinetic is Australia and New Zealand’s largest bus operator. It boasts nearly 4,000 buses and 6,000 employees.

Globalvia is a transport infrastructure firm specialising in roads and railways.

Go-Ahead runs more than 6,000 buses in England, including on behalf of Transport for London in the capital.

It also owns Govia Thameslink Railway, comprising Great Northern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southern.

The consortium wants to speed up plans to grow Go-Ahead and has vowed to fund change from diesel to zero-emission buses. Bosses also stressed

Go-Ahead would stay a stand-alone business, still based in Newcastle and London with a UK board and retaining the existing chairman and chief executive.

The deal – 1,450p a share in cash and a special dividend of 50p a share, is worth £647.7million.

Go-Ahead’s stock market value was £522million before yesterday’s disclosure, which triggered a share price jump.

The transport sector is currently experiencing a flurry of takeover activity.

Analysts believe bidders are betting congestion and pollution will force more councils to invest in public transport and deter use of private cars.

German investor DWS is set to buy rival Stagecoach in a £595million deal.

Last week, FirstGroup rejected a £1.2billion takeover approach from an American suitor.

The recommended Go-Ahead deal comes after a turbulent year for the firm.

It was stripped of the Southeastern train network serving Kent and London over an accounting scandal in which it wrongly kept millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

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