Associated British Ports, Britain's largest ports group, today agreed a £2.5 billion sterling takeover from a consortium led by US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Admiral Acquisitions, the group including Goldman Sachs, offered 810 pence in cash for AB Ports, the latest UK port to be snapped up in a round of sector consolidation. AB Ports said on May 23 it had opened its books to the Goldman Sachs consortium after receiving a revised 810p bid.

Both companies said in a statement the offer was a premium of 16.4% to AB Port's share price on March 24, the last business day before news of a possible offer was announced.

Goldman Sachs was under pressure to conclude a deal after losing out last week on a £10 billion offer for UK airports operator BAA to a rival consortium led by Spain's Ferrovial.

The Admiral consortium includes Canada's Borealis Infrastructure, which is the investment vehicle of Ontario pension fund OMERS, as well as Goldman Sachs and GIC Special Investments, the private equity arm of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

AB Ports rejected an indicative takeover offer from the same group in late March worth around 730 pence per share as 'wholly inadequate'.

The consortium's initial approach followed a $6.8 billion takeover of British ports operator P&O by Dubai Ports World which was completed in March, the latest in a string of UK port takeovers. Port operators have become attractive targets due to their stable income streams, large property portfolios and buoyant shipping markets on the back of growth in Chinese trade.