A smaller rival of car dealership Reg Vardy was yesterday said to be lining up a £480 million move to wreck an agreed takeover of the familyrun group.
The offer from Manchesterbased Lookers for Vardy, which has various outlets in the West Midlands, would trump a Pendragon deal - largest of the three firms - by £30 million.
According to one report, the offer could come in the next few days and land chief executive Sir Peter Vardy and his family, who own 27 per cent of the company, with a difficult decision. They have already given undertakings to accept the takeover by Pendragon, which will net £4.6 million if the deal is broken.
Reg Vardy is value at three times more than Lookers, which would have to take on substantial debt to finance a cash offer.
However, it revealed last week that it had been in talks with Vardy, while it reported "good progress" in arranging finance for an offer.
Since that statement, the London market has priced Vardy at a higher level than the value of the Pendragon offer, which was 800p a share or the equivalent of £450 million. It also earns the Vardy family £125 million.
Pendragon is the UK's largest car dealer group after the acquisition of CD Brammall in 2003 for £230 million left it with around 230 sites covering specialist and luxury franchises such as BMW, Ferrari and Land Rover.
One hurdle for Lookers, which is believed to be preparing an offer of around 850p a share, could be Pendragon's option over 16.6 per cent of Vardy's shares, which are owned by Sir Peter and can be acquired by Pendragon at 800p.