Support services group Babcock International is close to completing its £95m acquisition of rival Peterhouse.
Last week Babcock said that 41.8% of Peterhouse shareholders had accepted the offer. The number of responses received for this first deadline for acceptances was ahead of schedule. Takeover bids normally involve a series of deadlines.

A source close to the deal said: "The number of acceptances is well ahead of expectations – normally it is quite low, because institutions are cautious of a bid. Lots of private shareholders have replied."

The offer has been extended to 27 May. Although Babcock has said it needs 90% of Peterhouse shareholders to accept the offer, it can waive this and take over the company with majority consent.

Building understands the offer has now been accepted by nearly 50% of Peterhouse shareholders.

The number of acceptances is well ahead of expectations

Source close to the deal

Peter Rogers, Babcock chairman, said of the acceptances: "We are pleased to have received over 40%. The case remains that Babcock's offer is the only opportunity for Peterhouse shareholders to participate in the future growth of a larger and stronger group."

Peterhouse chairman David Jackson and director Simon Foster have said the Babcock offer, undervalues Peterhouse. They had considered a rival bid, but this has now collapsed.