Ftse-100 energy giant Centrica is set to win its £1.3bn battle to take over Venture Production, a North Sea oil-and-gas group.
Several institutional shareholders are understood to have privately admitted that they will vote in favour of the hostile bid. On Friday, Centrica extended the deadline for acceptance to 14 September.
The additional shareholder support should be enough to secure Centrica more than half of the votes, allowing it to take over Venture. The European Commission cleared the proposed deal late last week, confirming that the tie-up would not break competition rules.
Following the clearance, Centrica's advisers snapped up 2.6 million shares in the market, taking the company's holding to 31.6 per cent. Coupled with pledged support, Centrica has 41.9 per cent of its target's stock.
Venture's chief executive, Mike Wagstaff, has insisted the 845p-a-share offer undervalues the company.