Kellogg, the maker of breakfast cereals, has once again raised its bid for Egyptian snack-maker BiscoMisr, topping a rival offer from the UAE's Abraaj Group in an escalating $144m takeover battle.
Kellogg's bid, for 89.86 Egyptian pounds ($12.6, £8.1, €10.3) per share, followed an 88.09 pounds offer by Abraaj Asset Management, the head of Egypt's financial regulator Sherif Samy told Reuters.
Samy said the deadline for bids will be extended for five working days with each new offer, up to a maximum of 60 days from when the first offer was made. Sealed bids will be requested from then onwards.
An acquisition will give Kellogg a high-profile presence in the Arab world's most populous nation.
Food is seen as a potentially lucrative sector in Egypt, home to 87 million people, and the Egyptian cake and biscuit maker is an established brand with three factories in Cairo and Alexandria.
Angus Blair, chairman of business and economic forecasting think-tank Signet, told the news agency that Kellogg's industry experience and global reputation will boost BiscoMisr and investor confidence in the Egyptian economy.
Abraaj, the Middle East's largest buyout firm, said in a statement: "The Group's strategy is to maximise BiscoMisr's value by raising its local market share, expanding its business regionally, and increasing the company's production capacity. Should Abraaj be successful in its bid, the Group intends to retain the BiscoMisr brand name, the company will continue to be run from Egypt with Egyptian management, and the company's shares will continue to be listed on the Egyptian Exchange.
"...Furthermore, Abraaj intends to allocate shares with a value of around EGP 100 million towards implementing an employee incentivisation and retention programme to benefit all employees based on rules and directives to be determined at the time of adoption of the programme."
Both suitors have made four offers, and the bidding war has driven up the bid price by more than a fifth from Abraaj's opening offer of 73.91 pounds per share in early November.