JC Flowers could walk away from a potential deal with Friends Provident before the end of the month deadline which has been imposed by the embattled life insurer.
The private equity group has proposed a £3.5bn cash offer for Friends and has urged talks with the board but Friends says the offer is too low and there is no basis for discussion.
It is thought that JC Flowers could walk away before the “put up or shut up” deadline of April 30 if Friends continues to refuse to meet with the group.
If the group walks away, it would not be able to bid again for six months.
Analysts have indicated that JC Flowers would need to propose 160p per share in order for Friends to be interested – compared to the current 150p per share offer.
Some commentators believe JC Flowers will raise its price, even as early as next week.