IT services company Sema has confirmed that it is in negotiations with interested parties about a potential takeover.
In a statement this week, Sema said: "The board confirms that it has received preliminary approaches from certain parties, which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company."
Schlumberger, the US oilfield technology group, is said to be the leading contender. It is rumoured to be looking to raise up to $3bn to fund a takeover bid. Logica, the UK IT services company, has also been mentioned.
The possibility of a takeover has increased since Sema failed to recover from a heavy fall in its share price following a profit warning related to its $4.7bn acquisition of telecoms software company LHS.
In January, the company appointed Rothschild and Credit Suisse First Boston to advise it on its strategic options. A break-up of the company into two focused business units - telecoms products and IT services - has been suggested.
Sema has also confirmed that it is to start looking for a replacement for Pierre Bonelli, its chief operating officer, who intends to stand aside as the company looks to introduce new management.
Bonelli would be the second high-profile member of the team to resign after non-executive director Hartmut Lademacher left in November. Lademacher was a founder of LHS.
Sema currently employs more than 21,000 people in more than 160 locations worldwide.
Dominique Raviart, a senior analyst at IDC, said that while a company takeover would satisfy Sema's shareholders, it was important for the company to maintain independence.
"Sema has had difficulties merging with LHS but it has a sound long-term business model. It needs time to integrate but it is unlikely that the City will give it that," he said.
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