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      Pfizer may make counter bid for Ranbaxy

      Posted AtReuters.com

      MUMBAI (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc may bid for Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, countering a $4.6 billion offer by Japan's Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd for the Indian generic drug maker, the Business Standard newspaper said.

      Ranbaxy's shares jumped more than 4 percent on the report while Daiichi Sankyo's shares dropped 2 percent.

      Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, may bid for the about 65 percent of Ranbaxy held by institutions and public shareholders, the newspaper reported on Friday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the development.

      Daiichi Sankyo struck a deal on Wednesday worth up to $4.6 billion to take control of Ranbaxy, with the two companies seeking to become a pharmaceuticals powerhouse that sells both branded drugs and generics.

      Japan's third-biggest drugmaker agreed to acquire 34.8 percent from Ranbaxy's founding Singh family and then make an open offer for up to an additional 20 percent in line with Indian regulations.

      The newspaper said Pfizer held talks with the Ranbaxy founders for a possible acquisition a year earlier and may now offer to buy out the stake held by lenders and other investors.

      "That is speculation," a Ranbaxy spokesman said. "We have a binding contract with Daiichi. It is a final contract."

      On Thursday, when asked in Tokyo what he would do if another bidder appeared at a higher price, Ranbaxy Chief Executive Malvinder Singh said, "This is a firm and binding agreement between the two sides."

      Daiichi Sankyo declined to comment on the report. A Pfizer spokesman said the company does not comment on market rumors and speculation.

      According to calculations by Nomura Securities analyst Ryo Urushihara, if Daiichi Sankyo's bid failed, the Japanese drug maker could acquire up 44 percent of Ranbaxy's shares as it intends to buy new shares issued it by Ranbaxy, as well as gain shares from new-share warrants.

      GlaxoSmithKline PLC had also weighed a deal with Ranbaxy, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

      An Indian television channel reported that Glaxo's offer had been stalled by conditions linked to the process, while also saying Sanofi-Aventis SA had been a potential bidder.

      Ranbaxy has been battling Pfizer over patent rights for the U.S. company's blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor, in several countries and has been successful in certain cases.

      Ranbaxy's shares rose 4.3 percent to 566.9 rupees, while Daiichi Sankyo's shares ended down 2.4 percent to 2,910 yen.

      Nomura Securities acted as the exclusive financial adviser to Daiichi Sankyo, while Religare Capital Markets, which is controlled by the Singh family, advised Ranbaxy.

      (Reporting by Bharghavi Nagaraju and Edwina Gibbs in Tokyo; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan and Steve Orlofsky)

      June 16, 2008


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