Buyout firm Texas Pacific Group has until March 22 to make a firm offer for British Vita plc, a major European producer of plastic sheet, compounding and foam products.
Takeover Panel, the United Kingdom's mergers and acquisitions watchdog, set the deadline after San Francisco-based TPG made a third offer for Vita, valuing it at £648 million ($1.2 billion). If an improved bid is not made by then, TPG cannot make another offer for Vita for a year.
Meantime, British Vita, based in Manchester, England, said it plans to accelerate its restructuring measures, selling or closing noncore and poorly performing operations.
``This is expected to result in the disposal or closure over the next 12-18 months of a number of businesses with significant sales, but with relatively low profitability,'' Vita said.
Vita also will seek acquisitions, especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and China. Plans for 2005 include the launch of a furniture foam plant in Hungary and an automotive foam plant in Slovakia.
Central and Eastern Europe are growing markets, and Vita already has six plants in Poland, one in Lithuania and one in Romania.
Following pressure from its shareholders, British Vita agreed to give TPG immediate limited access to its accounts. TPG has demanded a week to undertake limited due diligence before it is willing to improve its latest offer.
TPG's March 10 bid, which was 5.4 percent higher than the previous offer, immediately was rebuffed by Vita directors, who said the new sum still undervalued their company.