Pilkington today looks set to become the latest UK company to be swallowed by an overseas rival after the finishing touches were put to a £2.2 billion takeover at the weekend.
The Merseyside-based glass maker, which has a big automotive glass operation in Birmingham, will wrap up three months of bid talks by shaking hands on a deal with Japanese firm Nippon Sheet Glass, reports claimed.
Two previous approaches by Nippon were rejected on the grounds that they were too low, but it is understood that Pilkington will recommend an offer worth 165p a share.
A statement from Nippon to the Tokyo Stock Exchange noted the press speculation, but insisted that a decision on whether to proceed with an acquisition of Pilkington had not yet been made.
"Nippon is aware of its dis-closure obligations and will communicate any material developments with regard to its discussions with Pilkington, without delay," the Japanese firm said.
Nippon is the largest shareholder in Pilkington and its 20 per cent stake effectively prevented rivals from entering the bidding process and gate-crashing the talks.
Analysts believe Nippon can generate savings from combining its UK subsidiary NGF Europe with the head office of Pilkington as they are both located in St Helens.
The two businesses are viewed as complementary as Nippon is the number-two supplier of glass to the automotive market in Japan while Pilkington has carved out strong positions in North America and Europe.
Major customers of Nippon are expanding and analysts believe they have been putting pressure on the firm to strengthen its presence overseas.
Yesterday's reports said Pilkington chief executive Stuart Chambers will stay on to help manage the combined business, but chairman Sir Nigel Rudd will leave.
Pilkington, in business for 180 years, employs about 24,000 people and its sales and distribution operations span more than 130 countries. Its shares have more than doubled over the past two years. ..SUPL: