SNC-Lavalin is in talks to acquire WS Atkins PLC, an engineering and project management consultancy based in London, for the equivalent of C$3.5 billion.
SNC made a tentative offer to buy the Epsom, England-based company for 2,080 pence a share, and discussions are under way about other terms and conditions of the proposal, Atkins said in a statement Monday after a jump in the share price. However, SNC had made no statement as of midday.
Atkins said that it is prepared to recommend the offer to its shareholders as long as they could reach an agreement on other terms and conditions. It has also been cutting costs in order to lift margins at its core engineering and construction division.
One of the two main engineers behind Britain's High Speed Two rail route has received a £2.1 billion takeover approach from a Canadian rival. Atkins got nearly half its revenue there.
Last month, SNC Chief Executive Officer Neil Bruce said the company has been weighing acquisitions to boost growth.
They were up 29 per cent at 1,986 pence in afternoon trading in London.
Louis-Antoine Paquin, a spokesman for SNC in Montreal, didn't immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Moelis and JP Morgan are advising the United Kingdom company.