The battle for control of the London Stock Exchange looks set to intensify amid reports that Macquarie is to up its offer.
The Australian bank, whose holdings include a stake in Birmingham International Airport and the M6 Toll, will meet leading institutional investors this week to drum up support for its hostile takeover bid before tabling an increased offer of more than 700p a share.
But such an offer will still be short of LSE's share price of 824p, which is at an all-time high and values the company at £2.1 billion. The share price has soared from below 350p in October on the back of takeover interest.
LSE has already dismissed an offer of 580p a share as "derisory" and accused Macquarie of trying to buy it on the cheap. Last week it beefed up its defence against the Australians by announcing plans to increase this year's dividend payments to shareholders by 71 per cent.
Macquarie has until February 25 to raise its bid or withdraw the hostile offer, but it is thought a number of private-equity firms and hedge funds are planning a last-minute bid.
Reports said at least two parties had visited the Financial Services Authority to discuss regulatory implications and a bid of around 800p could be forthcoming.
LSE has been the subject of a year-long takeover battle following interest last year form Paris-based Euronext and Germany's Deutsche Boerse.