Perrigo to buy Elan to cut tax
US drugmaker Perrigo Co yesterday agreed to buy Ireland’s Elan Corp for US$8.6 billion in a deal designed to expand overseas and reduce its tax bill. Michigan-based Perrigo says it will pay Elan investors US$6.25 per share in cash and US$10.25 in Perrigo stock. The deal represents an 11 percent premium over Elan’s closing price on Friday. Earlier this month, Elan said it was open to offers after spending months fighting a hostile, lower-priced takeover bid by Royal Pharma Inc. Perrigo said it will become an Ireland-based company and said it could cut its tax liabilities nearly in half, saving more than US$150 million annually. About 700 US companies based in Ireland pay a 12.5 percent rate of tax on profits, versus the US rate of 35 percent.
Essilor to buy US, Italy firms
Essilor International SA, the world’s biggest maker of corrective eye lenses, yesterday said it has signed a deal to buy US group Transitions Optical and Italian manufacturer Intercast Europa for US$1.73 billion. Transitions Optical posted sales of US$814 million last year and is a specialist in photochromic lenses, which darken automatically when exposed to certain types of light. Essilor, a French group, said its purchase of 51 percent of the US company would allow it to “boost expansion in the photochromic segment, which is growing twice as fast as the optical industry, notably in Asia, Latin America and Europe.” It added that Intercast, which recorded revenues of US$34 million last year, would add to its “positioning in the sun lens segment, which enjoys significant growth potential.”
ECB staff urge transparency
Two top European Central Bank (ECB) officials are arguing that the bank should join peers such as the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England in publishing minutes of its policy-setting meetings. ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said in an interview published yesterday by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and France’s Le Figaro that he favors publishing minutes because people want transparency and accountability. Board colleague Joerg Asmussen was quoted in the same interview as saying the minutes should set out who voted for what and why. Asked whether there is a majority for the move on the ECB Governing Council, he replied: “Every majority starts as a minority.” While the bank has never published minutes, ECB President Mario Draghi holds a press conference after the bank’s monthly monetary policy meetings.
Ryanair lands profit target
Cutbacks by rivals and extra charges for choosing seats helped low-cost airline Ryanair Ltd meet forecasts with a profit of 78 million euros (US$103 million) in the three months to last month, the Irish airline said yesterday. Ryanair benefited in the first quarter from an increase in so-called “ancillary” charges, particularly the roll out of advance booking for specific seats across the network, allowing passengers to bypass an unruly rush at departure gates. The company’s net profit compared with a forecast of 78 million euros in a poll of more than 20 analysts conducted by the company and was 21 percent lower than a year ago. The Dublin-based airline, famous for its no-frills service, maintained its forecast for earnings of 570 million to 600 million euros in its full year to the end of March, versus last year’s record 569 million euros.