updated 5/22/2006 2:08:38 PM ET 2006-05-22T18:08:38

German chemical maker BASF AG raised its hostile takeover bid for U.S.-based Engelhard Corp. by 2.6 percent to about $5.07 billion and said Monday that it was its final offer. Engelhard said it would consider the bid.

BASF, which first bid $37 a share for Engelhard in January in an effort to create a global leader in products such as pigments and catalysts, said it was raising its offer to $39 from its most recent offer of $38 a share.

Engelhard makes catalytic converters for cars and specialty chemicals and is based in Woodbridge, N.J.

“We are confident that Engelhard’s shareholders will recognize the superior value for all of their shares and the complete certainty that BASF is offering,” BASF Chief Executive Juergen Hambrecht said.

Hambrecht said BASF would abandon the takeover and “explore other opportunities” if Engelhard’s shareholders fail to elect its nominees at the U.S. company’s annual meeting on June 2.

“We want to make it very clear: This is our last, best and final offer. Under no circumstances will we raise our price again,” he said.

Ludwigshafen-based BASF, whose offer expires on June 5, has nominated five people for Engelhard’s board.

Engelhard asked its shareholders to hold back for now, so that its board of directors can “meet to review and discuss” BASF’s revised offer. It said it will make a recommendation to its shareholders “shortly.”

Engelhard’s managers had rejected earlier offers as too low. The company unveiled a plan to raise shareholder returns on its own, including buying back up to 20 percent of its stock at $45 a share.

BASF has tried to persuade investors that Engelhard’s plan is too risky.

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