After discussions between parties advisers, defence giant told it has until 12 April to make a formal bid

Babcock has until 12 April 2010 to make a firm offer for VT Group, or it will have to walk away from the deal.

The deadline was imposed today following discussions with both parties’ advisers. If Babcock declines to make an offer, it will be unable to make a repeat approach for at least six months.

Last month VT turned down an offer of 507.6p a share from the defence giant, which has been trying to create “a large and focused international engineering support services company”. At the time VT declined to discuss the proposal.

Now VT is considering putting a bid it made for Mouchel on hold, in favour of returning

£230m worth of shareholder funds to help alleviate pressure of accepting a potential offer from Babcock, according to a report in the Sunday Times.