BOC to look at joint bid.
The company said the proposal was unsatisfactory in a number of ways, but instead of breaking off talks, as it did last month, BOC said it would look at the issues to see if they could be addressed.
Industry sources said the two snags holding up a deal were price and the break-up of the company.
BOC was said to have declined a pounds 6.9 billion, 1,420p per share approach, from the two when it broke off talks last month, but remained keen on a sole tie-up with Air Liquide that would avoid carving BOC up.
Analysts said BOC chief executive Mr Danny Rosenkranz and finance director Mr Tony Isaac were trying to squeeze the best deal out of their position now that their company was in play.
"They are actually trying to look after BOC employees, managers and customers and get the best kind of deal," said Mr Philip Morrish, analyst at Paribas.