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Dana ups cash offer in hotly contested fight for Britain's GKN

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Auto components maker Dana Inc said on Monday it had agreed to increase its offer for GKN's Driveline business by $140 million in cash as it stepped up its efforts to fight off rival suitor Melrose .

Shareholders have until March 29 to choose Melrose's offer for the whole company, or back a plan from GKN's management to split off the group's auto business and combine it with U.S.-based Dana Incorporated, leaving GKN focused on aerospace parts.

GKN said under the new proposal it would now receive $1.77 billion in cash after deducting $1.0 billion for the transfer of pension deficit to the combined Dana-GKN Driveline group. It also plans to return up to 700 million pounds of cash to shareholders as soon as possible. (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)