Malaysian infrastructure concern YTL Corp has promised a 'big announcement' in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon, spurring speculation a bidding war for Consolidated Electric Power Asia (Cepa) is about to begin. The potential bid would spark one of the largest hostile takeovers ever seen in the region, with YTL challenging the might of Southern Co of the United States for control of Cepa. Southern is capitalised at about US$15 billion, dwarfing YTL's US$3.3 billion market value. Less than three weeks ago, Atlanta-based Southern agreed a HK$21 billion deal which would give it an 80 per cent stake in Cepa, Asia's biggest independent power company. Last week, Cepa and its majority owner Hopewell Holdings said YTL had made an approach to buy a controlling stake in Cepa. 'It [YTL's] is a hostile bid as far as I can guess; a rare event for Asia,' one analyst said. Many industry watchers said they were 'in the dark' about today's announcement although most agreed it was likely to concern Cepa. Sharinaz Shasee, an analyst at HG Asia in Kuala Lumpur, was less certain, saying: 'The existing offer [for the company] is already expensive and I can't see YTL getting involved unless it gets a better deal.' Another rumour suggested YTL would announce a deal with Hopewell to take a stake in the company's delayed Bangkok elevated road and train system. Confusion also surrounds Hopewell's statement last week that it had 'irrevocably undertaken to vote in favour of the [Southern] scheme'. It is understood the only way around this hurdle is for a new bidder to make a general offer which will improve the deal now on the table for minority shareholders. 'If more than 25 per cent of those vote against Southern's offer at a meeting due in around two weeks' time, then under the conditions as I understand them, the American deal will falter,' an analyst said. 'The board of Hopewell would then be in a position to consider another bid.' Kenny Yee of Nikko Research in Kuala Lumpur said it was felt YTL could not mount a bid on its own and rumours of potential consortium members continued to circulate. Khazanh, the Malaysian Government's national investment vehicle, was mentioned by some analysts as a possible consortium member. Singapore Power was also considered eager to diversify its Asian interests. The market continued to wait for concrete news, with Cepa's shares closing just 15 cents lower at $17.85, while Hopewell also lost 15 cents to $5.20.