Mittal Steel and Arcelor, the world's two biggest steelmakers, are edging towards a deal which would see Mittal raising its takeover bid for the second time, the French daily La Tribune reported on Friday.
The two sides are in the final stages of talks that would result in Indian-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal's company lifting its bid to about 43 euros a share from its current cash-and-shares bid of about 37 euros.
Last month, Mittal raised its original bid dating from January by 34 per cent.
The new possible move by Mittal would bring to an end the long-running takeover battle and comes ahead of a crucial Arcelor board meeting set for Sunday when the group will finally decide between its two rival suitors.
Last month, Arcelor unveiled a 13-billion-euro merger plan with Russian steel magnate Alexei Mordashov's Severstal group as part of a plan to fend off Mittal.
The speculation that Mittal might raise its bid for Arcelor also follows the decision this week by Severstal to improve its merger offer to address Arcelor shareholders' concerns about its control of the new fused group.
In a direct appeal to Arcelor shareholders, Mordashov on Friday published full-page advertisements calling on them to endorse the merger, amid signs of growing unease among Arcelor stockholders.
An extraordinary meeting of Arcelor shareholders has been called for next Friday to consider teaming up with Severstal.
However, a Luxembourg court said on Thursday it would rule next week on whether the meeting can proceed.
The court case has been mounted by a group of Arcelor shareholders concerned about the procedures involved in arranging next week's meeting.