SNC-Lavalin, Canada’s largest contractor, has offered to buy Atkins, the UK’s largest engineer, for £2.1bn ($2.6bn).
Atkins’ board indicated that it would be minded to accept the offer, which valued the company at 2,080 pence a share in cash, a 35% premium on Atkins’ closing share price on Friday.
A press statement said: "The board of Atkins has indicated to SNC that the possible offer would deliver value to Atkins shareholders at a level that the board would be prepared to recommend, subject to reaching agreement on the other terms and conditions of the offer."
Atkins added: "There can be no certainty that a firm offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any firm offer might be made."
The boards of the two companies are discussing other terms and conditions of the possible offer which is conditional on diligence and financing. SNC now has until 1 May to make a firm offer.
Atkins’ shares jumped to a new high of 2,004 pence following news of the proposal. Montreal-based SNC’s shares were halted in Toronto following the Atkins statement.
Last month, Neil Bruce, SNC’s chief executive, said the company has been looking to boost growth by acquisition.