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Britain's Wood Group may reject $1.98 billion Apollo buyout proposal

(Reuters) -John Wood Group said it may reject a sweetened 1.64 billion pound ($1.98 billion) buyout proposal from private-equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc, as it still undervalued the British oilfield services and engineering company. The proposal by Apollo on March 6 was a cash offer valuing the company at 237 pence per share, Wood said on Tuesday, sending its shares surging 15% to 224 pence by 0905 GMT.

Wood Group's stock price, which remains below Apollo's proposed offer, has surged around 45% since the company first made Apollo's bid public in late February.Wood has already turned down three preliminary buyout proposals from the New York-based company. "The board will continue to engage with its shareholders and intends to engage further, on a limited basis, with Apollo," Wood said in a statement. Apollo declined to comment.

In December last year, former Elliot Management activist fund manager Franck Tuil urged Wood to buy back some of its stock to avoid becoming a takeover target. Under British regulatory guidance for takeovers, Apollo must announce a firm intention to make an offer for Wood by March 22 or walk away, Wood said.

Apollo's latest cash offer represents a 53% premium to Wood's closing price on Feb. 22, the day before Apollo's bids were made public by Wood.

($1 = 0.8294 pounds)

(Reporting by Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Bernadette Baum)