A bidding war could be ignited for logistics group Exel after it emerged Americium package firm UPS could enter the £3 billion battle to buy it.

DHL owner Deutsche Post has already revealed it was in the preliminary stages of talks to buy Exel, which employs around 440 people at its operation at Hams Hall near Birmingham.

Overall, the Exel employs 10,000 people in the Midlands working at its 186 locations across the region which include distribution centres and warehouses and drivers.

UPS, which recently bought Overnite Transportation for £680 million is known to be hunting further acquisitions.

Its chief executive Mike Eskew has told Wall Street analysts he would consider acquisitions in attractive markets that offer synergies that 'leverage our strengths.'

Speculation mounted over the weekend that UPS had retained Goldman Sachs as financial advisers with a brief to look at the possibility of outbidding Deutsche Post, which is due to lose its domestic monopoly in 2007.

Exel has long been the target of takeover talk given its small size relative to giant competitors such as Deutsche Post.

FedEx, Dutch group TPG, Swiss firm Kuehne & Nagel and US giant General Electric have all been named in the past as potential bidders for Exel.