Tokyo (AFP) - Bridgestone has upped its bid for US auto service chain Pep Boys, after a competing offer from American investor Carl Icahn threatened to derail the Japanese firm's takeover plans.
The merger would make Bridgestone a major player in the US car maintenance business, in direct competition with Icahn's Auto Plus chain.
Bridgestone, the world's largest tyre maker, said at the weekend it would increase its offer for the US company to $15.50 per share, from an earlier offer of $15.00.
The boosted bid brings the total value of the deal to about $863 million.
The upgraded share offer matches Icahn's bid and won support from Pep Boys' board.
Icahn's offer had threatened to cancel an earlier agreement for Bridgestone to buy the service chain, whose full name is The Pep Boys -- Manny, Moe & Jack.
The US company, however, left open the possibility for Bridgestone to increase its bid.
In a joint statement at the weekend, Bridgestone and Pep Boys said the US firm's board was recommending the tyre maker's fresh offer.
Through the merger, Bridgestone would add Pep Boys' 800 US locations, offering tyre and car maintenance services, to its own 2,200 US outlets.
The activist investor Icahn, meanwhile, was believed to want to combine the retail sales side of Pep Boys with his Auto Plus car parts network of 2,300 outlets.
Bridgestone's sweetened bid leaves open the possibility of a counter offer from Icahn before a January 4 deadline.