Upmarket cooker manufacturer Aga Rangemaster has launched last minute takeover talks with global brand Whirlpool after it said it was considering lodging a bid.
The US company is in discussions over a possible offer to rival Middleby's £129 million bid made in July.
The maker of the distinctive cast-iron ovens, which runs manufacturing operations in Leamington Spa and Shropshire where it is also headquartered, said it had received an approach from Whirlpool and had now opened its books to the suitor.
Shares in Aga surged by as much as 12 per cent after news of the possible, higher bid broke.
Whirlpool's move to gatecrash the Middleby takeover comes just a week before Aga shareholders are due to vote on the deal, with Aga set to seal the Middleby takeover officially on September 16.
But Aga said it was still backing the 185p-a-share offer made by American kitchen equipment firm Middleby in the absence of any firm bid from Whirlpool.
Whirlpool, which makes around £13 billion in sales a year, employs 100,000 staff and has 70 manufacturing and research centres worldwide.
It confirmed its takeover interest in Aga in a statement but stressed "there can be no certainty that a formal offer will be made or as to the terms of any offer".
Aga said: "Given the conditionality of the Whirlpool offer, the board of Aga believes it is in the best interests of Aga shareholders, taken as a whole, to ensure that the Middleby transaction continues to be executed on the current timetable to avoid any delay to completion of that transaction should a firm offer from Whirlpool not be forthcoming."
Aga is in talks with the UK Takeover Panel to set a "put up or shut up" deadline for Whirlpool to make a firm bid or walk away.
The takeover battle comes after Aga appointed advisers Rothschild to help assess "development opportunities" for the business at the start of this year.
It first revealed talks with Illinois-based Middleby in June before agreeing the deal a month later.
Middleby has sought to allay concerns over the future of Aga's UK manufacturing operations as part of the takeover.
Swedish Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gustaf Dalen built the first Aga in 1922 and manufacturing was under way in the Midlands seven years later.
The ovens are now built in Coalbrookdale near the historic settlement of Ironbridge where the first arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron was built - considered a landmark event in the Industrial Revolution.
Aga maker Allied Iron Founders was bought by Midlands-based engineering firm Glynwed in 1969.
The Aga part of the business was split from the rest of the company in 2001.
The firm, which also owns the Fired Earth tiles brand, recently reported a 1.5 per cent increase in revenues to £125.4 million for the six months to the end of June.
Operating profits were up 16.7 per cent to £2.8 million but bottom line pre-tax profits for the half-year widened from £300,000 to £4 million due to a higher pension charge and the £3 million cost of advisers on the takeover deal.
The firm is grappling with a hefty pension deficit, valued at around £84 million.