BUS and rail group Arriva saw its shares shoot up by around a fifth after revealing it had caught the eye of a potential suitor.
The FTSE 250-listed group said it had received an “unsolicited approach from a third party,” believed to be German transport group Deutsche Bahn.
This already owns the Chiltern Line commuter route between London and Birmingham and is considering running trains through the Channel Tunnel to rival Eurostar.
Other names in the frame include Singapore’s ComfortDelGro, which already owns the Metroline bus business in London.
Market speculation put the size of a potential bid at around 700p a share which would value the group at £1.4bn.
However, Sunderland-based Arriva urged caution. “There can be no certainty that any offer will be forthcoming. A further announcement will be made when appropriate,” it said in a statement.
Two weeks ago Arriva broke off talks to merge its business with the Keolis transport unit of France's state railway group SNCF.
Earlier this month it reported that pre-tax profits for 2009 plunged by around a fifth to £121.7m amid lower passenger numbers.