Germans bid for Serb drugmaker

BELGRADE (Reuters) – The German generic drugmaker Stada Arzneimittel yesterday launched a takeover bid for Serbia’s top pharmaceutical company, Hemofarm, for 485 million euros ($611.1 million). Stada has offered to pay 146.9696 euros, or 12,345 dinars, per share – nearly four times face value – for at least 67 percent and up to 100 percent of Hemofarm’s capital, it said in the takeover bid published in the Belgrade daily Politika. Aktiva SEI, Wodal AG, East Capital Asset Manager, Raffles Associates LP, Reldan BV and Hypo-Alpe-Adria Bank AG – which control 67 percent of Hemofarm – and hundreds of small stakeholders have until August 9 to respond to Stada’s offer. Hemofarm’s shares opened at unchanged at 11,700 dinars per share, and Stada’s rose slightly to 35 euros. Brokers in Belgrade said they expected no counterbids. «Right now, investors’ focus is on (Croatia’s) Pliva, so I expect no other buyer to turn up for Hemofarm,» Rade Rakocevic, the head of Senzal brokerage. He was referring to a takeover battle between Barr Pharmaceuticals and Actavis for Pliva. Headquartered in Vrsac, around 100 kilometers northeast of Belgrade, Hemofarm and its three branches control 47.72 percent of Serbia’s drug market worth more than $600 million. Hemofarm ended 2005 with an 18.1-million-euro pretax profit, up on 16.3 million euros in 2004, according to its 2005 financial statement published July 18. Its assets, last reported in 2004, stood at 240 million euros, and its mortgage-backed debt in March 2006 stood at 121.5 million euros, mainly to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. With a successful acquisition, Stada will enter a fast-growing Serbian market. Also Serbia’s annual imports of pharmaceuticals rose to an estimated $220 million in 2005 from $50 million in 2001. Domestic laws oblige the industry to fully meet the European Union’s pharmaceuticals manufacturing and distribution standards by August 1, 2009.