Canadian company SNC-Lavalin is in talks to acquire British engineering and consultancy group WS Atkins.
News of the possible offer, which would need to be firmed up by 1 May under takeover rules, sent shares in Atkins flying up nearly 27 per cent to 1,958p on Monday afternoon.
Atkins revealed this afternoon it has received a possible offer price of 2,080p per share in cash, valuing it at around £2.1bn.
The company said:
The board of Atkins has indicated to SNC-Lavalin 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 and SNC-Lavalin are in discussions about the other terms and conditions of the possible offer which is conditional on, amongst other things, diligence and financing.
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.
Atkins is being advised by Moelis and JP Morgan on the potential deal.
Atkins is based in Epsom, Surrey, and has worked on projects including an Elan Valley aqueduct, Wessex Water optimiser and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.
Half of its group sales come from outside of the UK and the company has also worked on Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi, a Las Vegas flood control plan and a public library in Borg Al Arab, Egypt.
SNC-Lavalin is headed up by Scotsman Neil Bruce, who was previously chief operating officer and executive director of AMEC.
The firm has worked on projects including the Trans-Canada Highway, the development of baggage handling systems at the airport in Montreal and, in the UK, the reconstruction of East Grinstead station.