BILLION

HE company that operates London’s red bus is facing two takeover bids, the company’s latest run in a closely watched sector.

Go Ahead, the biggest bus operator in the UK and also the company behind the Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express rail services, saw its shares rise 13% today.

In response, it issued a statement saying it received “separately unsolicited, conditional approaches” to the business.

The contractors are Australia’s Kelsian Group and a consortium of Spain’s Kinetic and Globalvia bus companies. Both submitted proposals for modifications after seeing their initial bid drop.

Go Ahead said that, and bankers at Rothschild “carefully evaluated” the bids and found that either category could be recommended to shareholders. An appraisal phase has begun.

Last week First Group rejected a £1.2 billion offer from I Squared, an American private equity firm. Stagecoach has accepted a bid of nearly £600m from Germany’s DWS.

City analysts say there is a renewed interest in public transit companies in the wake of the pandemic. People will commute as much as before, but there will be less need to use cars if decarbonization targets are hit.

Last year, Go Ahead was fined £23 million and stripped of its South East rail franchise after failing to declare taxpayer funding it should have paid back.

Shares rose 145p to 1355p, valuing the business at around £600m.

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