Inco boosts offer for Falconbridge, Phelps Dodge raises bid for both

Inco Ltd. has raised its friendly offer for Falconbridge, while Phelps Dodge Corp. boosted its bid for Inco. over the weekend.

The complicated takeover race involving Inco Ltd. and Falconbridge Ltd. advanced another step on Sunday as Inco raised its friendly offerby $1 a share.

Under its new bid, Inco isoffering $18.50 in cash plus 0.55676 shares of its own stock for each share of Falconbridge. Inco's offer was worth $60.20 based on Friday's closing price of the company's shares.

Inco also cut the number of Falconbridge shares it needs for its bid to be successful to 50.01 per cent from its earlier condition of two-thirds.

At the same time, U.S. mining company Phelps Dodge Corp. hiked its bid for both Inco and Falconbridge by $2.75 in cash, making its overall offer now worth $80.70 in cash.

The sweetened bids came in response to an increased takeover offer for Falconbridge from Switzerland's Xstrata PLC. Last week, Xstrata, which already owns 20 per cent of Falconbridge, raised its cash bid to $59 per share.

The three-way Inco-Falconbridge-Phelps Dodge merger is further complicated by a pending Ontario Securities Commission hearing on Friday. Teck Cominco Ltd., which has launched its own bid for Inco, is slated to argue for regulators to overturn Inco's shareholders right plan.