While the fight between Tata Steel and CSN over Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus continues, experts feel there is still time for a third suitor to put in bids ahead of a deadline set by the regulators.
However, there is no obvious potential suitor on the horizon and whoever decides to make this move would have to act fast and launch an offer before mid-January.
Legal experts believe that the auction process could be announced a few days before the deadline of January 30 set by the UK Takeover Panel and any revised bid from the two suitors should come by the middle of January, so that the regulators find enough time to incorporate the prevailing situation in the terms and conditions of the auction process.
And this is the time by when a third bidder, if any, should announce its offer for Corus. While a spokesperson for the takeover watchdog declined to comment, saying it was 'hypothetical', a senior Takeover Panel official, who declined to be named, said that any new offer would be given due consideration as and when it emerges.
However, the emergence of a third bidder should not jeopardise the interests of shareholders that remains on top of the panel's agenda, he said, adding that a bidding war like situation is already continuing for more than three months.
Roy-Montague Jones, partner and joint head at UK-based international law firm Richards Butler told PTI: "It is still possible in theory for a third bidder to emerge."
However, if there were to be a third party wishing to bid at this stage, it should aim to announce its offer not later than mid-January, which is around the same time when any revised offer should come from Tata Steel or CSN, Roy added.
Complete coverage: The Tata-Corus saga