Lincoln Electric likely suitor for Charter International

US firm Lincoln Electric has possibly made a £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion) bid for UK-listed engineering group Charter International, topping an earlier rejected offer from Melrose, the Daily Telegraph today reported, citing city sources.

Charter, the embattled Irish welding equipment manufacturer, today confirmed that it is in discussions with a potential suitor other than Melrose regarding a possible offer for the company.

"These discussions are at an early stage and there can be no assurance that they will lead to an offer for the company. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate," it said.

The paper said that Charter has received an 870 pence-a-share indicative offer in the middle of last week from a mystery bidder, which is likely to be Cleveland, Ohio-based Lincoln, the world's largest welding company.

Last month, Charter rejected a sweetened 840 pence per share, or £1.4 billion, bid from Melrose, saying it was ''opportunistic and substantially undervalues the company and its prospects,'' and added that it would look at alternatives.

The offer also said that the company would be willing to raise the offer if it was given access to Charter's books. (See: Melrose seeks access to Charter's books for raising offer) 

London-listed Charter, which currently has a market cap of £1.32 billion, rejected a 780 pence a share, or £1.3 billion, bid from Melrose, and later rejected a sweetened 840 pence a share, or £1.4 billion, offer.