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Volkswagen AG’s heavy-truck division set a deadline for Navistar International Corp. to accept its takeover bid, ratcheting up pressure on the U.S. manufacturer to decide on a $3.6 billion deal.

VW’s Traton SE unit said in a statement that its offer expires at 6 p.m. Central European Time on Oct. 16. The company lifted its bid for the remaining portion of Navistar stock it doesn’t already own to $43 a share on Sept. 10 from an initial $35-a-share offer in January.

The current price “represents our best and final offer,” Traton said in a letter to Navistar’s board of directors. “We still believe that this price of $43 per share reflects an extremely attractive premium to Navistar shareholders.”

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Navistar shares plunged as much as 21% to $35 on Oct. 14 in New York.

A successful acquisition of Navistar would be a major step toward Traton’s goal to challenge sector leaders Daimler AG and Volvo AB on a global scale. Traton so far has no direct access to the North American market, the industry’s largest source of profits, and relies heavily on sales in Europe and Latin America.

‘Last Chance’

Navistar has little presence outside North America and is less profitable than peers like Paccar Inc. It suffered from an ill-fated engine strategy in the past and had been embroiled in accounting irregularities.

“The deal makes sense for both Traton and Navistar, considering their respective position and strategic ambition,” said Roman Mathyssek, a Munich-based consultant at Arthur D. Little GmbH. “The offer from Traton might be the last chance for Navistar to become part of a large global manufacturer.”

RELATED: VW’s Traton Boosts Bid for Navistar to $3.6 Billion

Carl Icahn is Navistar’s largest shareholder with a 16.8% stake, followed by VW with a 16.7% holding. Its third-largest shareholder is MHR Fund Management, the hedge fund founded by Mark Rachesky.

VW purchased its initial stake in Navistar in 2017 to establish a bridgehead in North America, where global rivals generate a large chunk of their sales. The Lisle, Ill.-based company builds International trucks, IC buses, defense vehicles and diesel engines.

VW folded its truck operations into Traton and sold a 10% stake in an initial public offering last year. The group comprises Swedish heavy-truck specialist Scania, Germany’s MAN and a smaller business in Brazil that makes commercial vehicles for emerging markets.

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