Alipay owner Ant Financial upped its offer for remittance company MoneyGram in an attempt to fend-off competition from US-based rival Euronet.

In a move to secure the support of MoneyGram shareholders, China-based Ant increased its offer by $320 million on the price originally agreed in January, to $1.2 billion.

Ant’s new offer was accepted by the MoneyGram board and will be put forward for shareholder approval.

The rival bidders have been embroiled in a fierce war of words since cashpoint technology company Euronet tried to hijack Ant’s merger agreement with a $1 billion offer in March.

Launching its own bid, Euronet promised MoneyGram shareholders both a higher offer and a more certain path to closing, as its deal required fewer regulatory sign-offs.

Strong accusations
The battle heated up in early April as accusations came in from both sides. Reuters reported Euronet representatives wrote to US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin warning of “significant national security risks” they believed were raised by an Ant deal.

Ant responded by issuing a statement claiming: “Euronet has sought to create phantom national security arguments and encouraged political interference in a commercial transaction. A closer examination of Euronet’s self-serving claims demonstrates that its hostile bid for MoneyGram does nothing to advance American interests.”

The company went on to state the majority of Euronet’s own operations were outside of the US, criticised the company’s tax arrangements in the country and highlighted a historical data breach and associated fine.

Ant’s determination to complete the deal illustrates the priority it places on expansion in the US market. In its various statements since January it was quick to highlight its commitment to the country and its intention to launch new services into the market.