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Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Bayer focused on final day of Schering takeover bid


Bayer AG vowed yesterday to keep up its effort to buy fellow German drug maker Schering AG as it entered the final day of its takeover offer with the outcome in doubt.

Bayer signaled on Tuesday that it might raise its offer price for Berlin-based Schering as it battled to salvage its 16.5 billion euros (US$20.4 billion) takeover bid against competition from spurned suitor Merck KGaA.

Yesterday, it said it had bought Schering shares at prices up to 88 euros -- compared with its offer price of 86 euros per share.

"Bayer AG still aims to wholly acquire Schering AG and is preparing to launch a `mandatory offer' if the current takeover offer proves unsuccessful," the Leverkusen-based company said in a statement.

"This means Bayer must make a new offer to all Schering stockholders to acquire the shares they still own because Bayer now holds more than 30 percent of Schering stock," it added.

Bayer spokesman Guenter Forneck said that any mandatory offer "will not be over 88 euros."

Merck now holds 21.8 percent of Schering, and analysts have said it is unlikely that Bayer will obtain the required 75 percent of Schering stock by last night's deadline.

With a day to go, Bayer controlled some 55.5 percent of Schering.

Late on Tuesday, Bayer filed a lawsuit against Merck in a US court that accused its rival of illegally trying to block its offer for Schering. The company argues that Merck has failed to disclose its strategic intentions, in violation of US law.

"The effect of Merck's tactics has been to withhold important information from the financial markets, putting Schering stockholders at a disadvantage and harming Bayer," Bayer general counsel Roland Hartwig said in yesterday's statement.

Bayer's bid for Schering trumped a hostile 14.9 billion euros offer by Merck, which later said it was pulling out.

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