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Punj Lloyd chases Australia's Macmahon construction unit

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Punj Lloyd Ltd (PUJL.NS), stepped up its offer for the construction business of Macmahon Holdings Ltd (MAH.AX) on Thursday, looking to trump a current deal with Leighton Holdings Ltd (LEI.AX).

Punj Lloyd unit Sembawang Australia said it would offer A$38 million for Macmahon's construction businesses, including its rail business. Alternatively, it is offering to beat Macmahon's existing A$20 million agreement with Leighton for the construction assets, minus the rail business, by A$5 million.

Macmahon, which is shedding its construction arm to become a full service mining contractor, said its board was considering the proposal.

Macmahon last week distanced itself from Punj Lloyd's original approach, which did not include a dollar figure, saying it could not offer the Indian firm due diligence due to exclusivity arrangements with Leighton.

Macmahon said in December it planned to exit construction and announced a deal to transfer the majority of its construction assets to Leighton. Construction group Leighton owns 24 percent of Macmahon, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Macmahon shares jumped as much as 5.5 percent in morning trade on news of the revised offer and were last trading up 3.6 percent at A$0.285. (Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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