Lek shareholders accept Novartis takeover

The Lek acquisition will allow Novartis to produce more generic pharmaceuticals.

Over 65 per cent of shareholders in the Slovenian drugs company, Lek, have accepted a takeover offer tabled by the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant, Novartis.

This content was published on October 23, 2002 - 15:03

The announcement came a few days after Novartis raised its bid price by ten per cent.

Last September, Lek shareholders turned down a previous cash offer from the Basel-based company of 95,000 Slovenian tolars ($406) per share, arguing that the asking price was too low.

Novartis made a renewed bid worth $860 million, or $446 per share. The success of the bid depended on the Swiss group acquiring at least 51 per cent of Lek's share capital.

The company's main shareholders, Kapitalska Druzba (KAD) and Odskodninska Druzba (SOD), which together hold a 27.5 per cent stake in Lek, made it clear early on that they would accept the increased offer.

Increased capacity

Now the takeover has been given the green light, Novartis will be in a position to expand its capacity to manufacture generic versions of the Augmentin antibiotic, developed by British drug giant, GlaxoSmithKline.

"The main reason why we want to take over Lek is that the company is very established on the generics market - an area in which Novartis is not that present," said Felix Raeber, a Novartis spokesman.

"This is purely a generic deal, which means drugs that are no longer under patent protection."

swissinfo with agencies

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