updated 5/23/2006 9:29:45 AM ET 2006-05-23T13:29:45

Associated British Ports Holding PLC, Britain's largest ports operator, revealed Tuesday that it has opened its books to a bid consortium after receiving a sweetened takeover offer worth 2.44 billion pounds ($4.6 billion). Shares in AB Ports soared 15 percent.

The company, which owns 21 ports across Britain, rejected an earlier 2.2 billion pound ($4.1 billion) approach from the Goldman Sachs-led consortium in March as "wholly inadequate."

It said Tuesday, however, that it is giving the consortium — which includes Canadian investment house Borealis Infrastructure Management and Singapore-based GIC Special Investments — a limited period to study its books following a revised offer of 810 pence ($15.25) per share.

The stock was trading 15 percent higher at 770.5 pence ($14.51) on the London Stock Exchange.

AB Ports said its statement to the exchange was being made without the consent of the consortium and there was no guarantee any deal would be reached.

In addition to ports handling almost a quarter of the U.K.'s sea-borne trade, AB Ports has businesses offering specialist services.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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