Associated British Ports Holdings, the biggest port operator in Britain, said today that its board has recommended an improved takeover bid from a consortium led by US bank Goldman Sachs.

The Goldman consortium had earlier raised its offer for the second time to 910 pence per share or £2.795 billion sterling.

In reaction, a rival consortium lead by the Australian Macquarie  Bank today urged AB Ports shareholders to sit tight while it considered its position, adding that a fresh statement would be made in due course.

The previous Goldman bid had valued Associated British Ports  Holdings at £2.577 billion.

Macquarie's consortium had said last week it would 'at least' match the Goldman offer of £2.577 billion for the group, which manages 21 British ports and handles nearly one quarter of the country's seaborne trade.