THE transport giant that owns Morebus, Damory and Excelsior Coaches has agreed a £650milion takeover by a consortium including an Australian bus operator.

Parent company Go-Ahead said the deal would make the business part of a "truly global mass transit platform" while keeping its independence.

Shares in Go-Ahead surged yesterday after the company said it would recommend its shareholders accept the offer of £15 a share plus a special dividend.

The offer comes from a consortium including Australian firm Kinetic Holdings and Spanish infrastructure investor Globalvia, which are both backed by a Canadian pension fund.

The deal is expected to be completed by around October, subject to conditions.

Christian Schreyer, group chief executive of Go-Ahead, said: “This is a compelling offer which combines an attractive valuation for shareholders with bright prospects for Go-Ahead’s operations and colleagues around the world.

“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.

“We welcome the commitment of Kinetic and Globalvia to invest in the decarbonisation and digitalisation of our operations, and to support our strategy, The Next Billion Journeys.”

However, there is still the prospect of a bidding war, after Go-Ahead had confirmed takeover interest from rival Australian transport firm Kelsian.

Kelsian confirmed that it has been in talks with the UK business over a potential cash takeover.

It said: “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.”

Go-Ahead’s subsidiary Go South Coast owns bus and coach businesses across Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight.

They include Morebus, the bus and coach firm Damory and Excelsior Coaches, all based in Dorset, as well as Salisbury Reds, Bluestar in Southampton, Southern Vectis on the Isle of Wight and the repair and refurbishment business Hants & Dorset Trim in Eastleigh.

Go-Ahead had previously said it was “minded” to accept one of the two approaches about the business.

There has been rising takeover interest in the transport industry, with rival Stagecoach set to be bought by German investor DWS in a £595m deal.