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Rival Go-Ahead bidder ‘assessing options’ as bus firm sees passengers return

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A rival bidder in the race to buy the company behind Govia Thameslink Railway has said it is still assessing its options as the business said some of its buses are as busy as they were before Covid-19.

Kelsian said it has until August 1 to make a firm offer for Newcastle-based Go-Ahead Group, or walk away.

It is considering whether to muscle in on Go-Ahead’s £650 million agreement to be bought by Australian bus operator Kinetic and Globalvia.

“Kelsian continues to carefully assess all its options in relation to the opportunity and accordingly continues to urge Go-Ahead shareholders to take no action at this time,” the business said.

In a trading update on Monday Go-Ahead said it had increased profit guidance for its regional bus division.

The business now expects operating profit before exceptional items to beat the last two years.

The division is carrying more than 85% of the passengers it was before the pandemic, and recent weeks have been “particularly encouraging”, it said.

“Passenger numbers on public transport have continued to recover from the pandemic, and in certain parts of the UK, such as Manchester, our buses are as busy as they were before Covid-19,” said chief executive Christian Schreyer.

“We are encouraged to see so many people using buses and trains and we expect a busy summer ahead, particularly in tourist areas.”

In a separate document published on Monday, Kinetic and Globalvia said they do not expect the acquisition to result in any reduction in headcount, but added there would be a “limited” impact on staff who support Go-Ahead’s listing on the London Stock Exchange, which will be revoked after the takeover.

It also does not expect any depot closures, or material changes to the employment conditions of staff.

When the new owners come in they will review Go-Ahead’s rail businesses in Germany and Norway, which might end in those units being sold.

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