German ball bearings maker Schaeffler yesterday said it was still seeking friendly talks with tyre maker Continental, for which it has launched an unsolicited £9bn takeover bid.
But insiders say the Conti board are split over whether or not to engage with the rival firm.
Schaeffler reiterated its aim for a stake of 36 per cent in Conti, which has said it would only welcome participation of up to 20 per cent.
The firm said it had no intention of breaking up Continental and that its €69.37 (£55.02) a share offer deserved to be put to shareholders.
Although some in Continental are deeply suspicious of their rival’s intentions, others think that Schaeffler – which has already secured a 36 per cent stake – is almost certain to succeed.
Hubertus von Grünber, supervisory chairman at Conti, told directors he thought that spurning Schaeffler could lead to the break up of the firm, although some doubt his loyalty as he once worked as an adviser to Schaeffler
Chief executive Manfred Wennemer has been much more resistant, dismissing the bid as “egoistic, high-handed and irresponsible”.