Go-Ahead suspends shares amid Southeastern rail scandal

Train and bus operator failed to file results because of issues linked to breach of franchise

Last modified on Tue 4 Jan 2022 06.09 EST

Go-Ahead has halted the trading of its shares on the London Stock Exchange after the train and bus operator failed to file its financial results because of issues surrounding a £25m breach of Southeastern’s railway franchise agreement.

The transport group, which was stripped of the contract to operate the commuter network in September, said it was continuing to work closely with its auditor Deloitte to attempt to publish its results for the year to 3 July by the end of the month.

In December the company, which apologised for “serious” failings in its railway business after it was found not to have declared more than £25m in taxpayer funding that should have been returned, said the scandal meant it would miss the six-month deadline for filing its annual results and have to suspend its shares under UK regulatory rules.

The announcement of the impending trading suspension prompted a 25% fall in the company’s share price, which ended the year at 667p, giving Go-Ahead a market value of £288m at the close of the last day the company’s shares traded on New Year’s Eve. Go-Ahead’s shares were officially suspended on Tuesday morning.

“The company intends to request a restoration of the listing of its ordinary shares and its bond on publication of the full year 2021 results,” said Go-Ahead in a filing to the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday. “The group continues to work closely with Deloitte to ensure that the full-year 2021 results are published as soon as possible. This is expected to be before the end of January.”

The scandal, which cost Go-Ahead’s group chief financial officer, Elodie Brian, her job, will result in a fine from the Department for Transport. In December, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said that although the money had been recovered further investigations were being conducted into historical contact issues related to the franchise.

The government has taken back control of the Southeastern franchise, which Go-Ahead operated through Govia, a joint venture with France’s Keolis. Go-Ahead still runs some of the busiest lines in the UK through Govia Thameslink Railways, another joint venture with Keolis.

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