One of America’s biggest companies is mulling a rival bid for British industrial software firm Invensys in a move worth £3.5bn.
General Electric’s interest threatens to trump last week’s takeover proposal from France’s Schneider Electric, which valued Invensys at £3.3bn.
An auction involving two of the world’s biggest industrial companies could drive up the price to 550p a share, equivalent to £3.6bn.
Invensys, which employs more than 1,100 people in the UK out of a total workforce of 16,500, develops technologies for a wide range of sectors including oil refineries, air conditioning and household appliances.
The company’s roots go back to 1924, although it was established in its current form when BTR agreed a £10bn merger with Siebe.
Invensys sold its rail division to German high-speed train maker Siemens for £1.7bn in May.
The deal enabled Invensys to plug the deficit in its company pension scheme, which had previously been seen as a stumbling block to takeover suitors.
Britain represents General Electric’s second largest market.