A consortium led by investment bank Goldman Sachs has increased its takeover offer for Associated British Ports (ABP) to £2.8 billion ($5.1 billion) in its latest effort to secure the UK company.
In an e-mailed statement today, the New-York based company said that the new bid was worth 910 pence per share, up from its June 15th offer of 840p per share, which was matched by rival bidder Macquarie.
Responding to Goldman Sachs' latest offer the Australian bank urged ABP shareholders to take no action on the bid. It said the Macquarie-led consortium was "considering its position and a further announcement would be made in due course".
But in a statement, ABP said that its board of directors would recommend that investors accept the offer, made under the company established to front the bid, Admiral Acquisitions.
"The boards of directors of Admiral and ABP announce that after a competitive process they have reached agreement on the terms of recommended revised proposals for the acquisition of the entire issued and to be issued share capital of ABP by Admiral", the company said.
ABP, which owns 21 ports in the UK and handles around a quarter of the country's seabourne trade, said that the company considered the Goldman-Sachs bid to be "fair and reasonable".
The Goldman Sachs-led consortium includes Canada's Borealis Infrastructure, the investment division of Ontario pension fund OMERS; GIC Special Investments, the private equity arm of the Singapore Government Investment Corporation and Prudential, the UK's second-largest insurer.
Macquarie and the UK venture capital firm 3i Group are bidding with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which oversees Canada's biggest taxpayer-funded retirement plan and Industry Funds Management, a Melbourne-based pension- fund manager.
Goldman Sachs' revised offer marks the latest development in a bidding war between the two consortiums.
The world's largest securities firm, which originally made an 810p per share offer for ABP on June 14th, will be keen to finalise a takeover deal after being forced to withdraw from a bidding war over airports operator BAA earlier this month.
Ports have become increasingly attractive takeover targets in recent times, with their stable income streams and property assets particularly appealing given the growth in world trade. In March, Dubai's DP World bought P&O for $6.8 billion after beating competition from Singapore's PSA International.