A consortium that includes the parent company of Stagecoach’s former bus operations in New Zealand has announced a £650m takeover of Go-Ahead

The new order: a Kinetic bus in Melbourne

Go-Ahead Group this week accepted a £650m takeover bid from a consortium made up of an Australian and New Zealand bus operator and a Spanish transport infrastructure investor, both of which are backed by OPTrust, a Canadian pension fund.

The bid has been made by Kinetic and Globalvia Inversiones and comes despite rival takeover talks with another Australian transport operator – Kelsian Group, the parent company of London and Singapore bus operator Tower Transit.

Go-Ahead revealed Kinetic and Globalvia Inversiones made their first approach to acquire the group in January at a level the group directors felt did not reflect an appropriate value for Go-Ahead and its future prospects. Four further bids were subsequently forthcoming with the fifth being successful.

The bid partners intend for Go-Ahead to continue to operate as a standalone business under the Go-Ahead brand, led by the existing management team with its headquarters remaining in Newcastle and its head office and certain head office functions continuing to be based in London.

This is a compelling offer. We have confidence in Go-Ahead’s future as an independent business, but see that being part of a truly global mass transit platform will yield exciting opportunities

“This is a compelling offer,” said Christian Schreyer, Go-Ahead’s chief executive. “We have confidence in Go-Ahead’s future as an independent business, but see that being part of a truly global mass transit platform will yield exciting opportunities.

“As a standalone business within a global platform, we will be better placed than ever to connect communities and to fulfil our purpose of moving our customers towards a smarter and healthier planet.”

Go-Ahead’s acceptance of the bid was welcomed by Michael Sewards, co-chief executive of Kinetic, which acquired the former Stagecoach New Zealand business from private equity firm Next Capital in March 2022.

“As Australia and New Zealand’s largest and fastest growing bus operator, with the majority of our revenue aligned to long-term government contracts, we will bring proven experience to accelerate the delivery of Go-Ahead’s Next Billion Journeys growth strategy,” he said. “We are one of world’s largest operators of electric buses and we will not only provide the necessary long term capital but the expertise to facilitate the rapid transition of Go-Ahead’s bus fleet from diesel to zero emission technology.”

However, Kelsian, which recently announced the sale of its standalone Tower Transit bus operations in east London to Stagecoach, has urged Go-Ahead shareholders to reject the bid, despite not announcing any firm intention of making a rival offer for the group.

“Kelsian believes that the potential combination with Go-Ahead would create an international leader in multi-modal, mass transit, supporting a sustainability agenda for its passengers and governments, with strong growth prospects,” it said.

The full story appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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