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(Reuters) - Britain's takeover regulator said on Thursday the buyout battle for waste management firm Augean will enter a formal auction process if suitors, Ancala Partners and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure (MSI), do not make their final bids by Sept. 21
Earlier this month, MSI made a 340-pence-per-share ($4.68) sweetened offer for Augean, topping the 325-pence-per-share offer from Ancala that the London-listed company agreed to in August. Ancala made the offer through its Eleia entity.
Augean said on Thursday it was withdrawing its recommendation for the Eleia offer, adding that its directors have proposed to adjourn shareholder meetings with MSI and Eleia.
Head-to-head auctions are initiated by the regulator if two competing bids that have not been declared final remain on the table for the company at the end of the offer period.
The takeover panel said the regulator, Augean, MSI and Eleia had agreed to a custom auction procedure different from the default option.
The possible auction for Augean comes about a month after the UK Takeover Panel intervened in the fight for the control of drugmaker Vectura, but a deal by Philip Morris was finalised without the commencement of the auction.
Auctions are usually a rare occurrence. The last major deal that went to auction was in 2018 for pay-television group Sky, and Comcast emerged as the winner.
($1 = 0.7265 pounds)
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)