Sub prime lender Non-Standard Finance has dropped the number of acceptances needed to push forward with its £1.3bn hostile takeover of rival firm Provident Financial.
NSF said in a statement that its offer was now unconditional in terms of acceptances by investors, with 5 June the last date on which the takeover may be declared "wholly unconditional".
However, Provident hit back, branding the offer “woeful” in a war of words that has escalated since NSF launched its takeover bid in February.
Last week NSF criticised the firm over its “flawed strategy, regulatory breaches, broken promises and underwhelming performance”.
Meanwhile, Provident has questioned whether its rival has the financial resources required to complete the deal.
A Provident spokesperson said: "This deal is not done. In three months, NSF has added just 3.5 per cent of support, which speaks volumes.
“Three regulators still need to bless this and shareholders should continue to reject this woeful offer.”
NSF said investors holding 53.53 per cent of Provident’s issued share capital had accepted the deal, substantially less than its original 90 per cent target. The firm has now lowered its acceptance level to 50 per cent plus one Provident share.
"(The) NSF Board is now approaching the Provident Board again to establish a pragmatic and constructive dialogue, so that, as and when the remaining conditions are satisfied, the interests of all stakeholders will be safeguarded," NSF said.
Investors Neil Woodford, Invesco and Marathon have backed the offer from the beginning and together own more than 50 per cent of both firms.
Schroders, Provident's third largest shareholder has said it will not accept the offer.