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Hitt og þetta 21. apríl 2006

DJ INTERVIEW: New Pliva Bid "Utmost" Actavis Will Pay -CEO

COPENHAGEN-(Dow Jones)Generic drug maker Actavis Group HF (ACT.IC) said Thursday it won't raise its $1.85 billion bid for rival Pliva DD (PLVA.ZG).

Earlier Thursday, Actavis increased its takeover offer for Pliva by 10.5% in an expected move to jump-start stalled talks with the Croatian generic drug maker. Iceland-based Actavis, the world's fifth-largest generic drug maker by sales, raised its offer to HRK630 a share from HRK570.

"This is our last and final offer...We will walk away if it is not accepted," Actavis CEO Robert Wessman said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

Actavis warned that it will back out if Pliva doesn't respond quickly to the sweetened bid. But market participants speculated that the company may be forced to go even higher, since the new offer fell short of Pliva's estimate of its own value.

"It's better but it's still below," Marija Mandic, Pliva's executive director for corporate communications told Dow Jones Newswires.

Actavis launched its unexpected bid for Pliva in March, but negotiations hit a roadblock after Pliva said the offer wasn't high enough.

Actavis said then it would consider upping its offer, which valued Pliva at $1.6 billion, if Pliva opened its financial accounts for review.

But Pliva refused, leaving the deal in limbo.

Wessman said Actavis increased its offer to $1.85 billion because it accepts that the Pliva financial accounts may hold a better picture than Actavis initially thought, and that it still considers Pliva to be a "good fit." In fact, he said, so far Actavis hasn't "seen any company that would fit better."

However, Wessman said, it will not now boost the bid, regardless of what the Pliva accounting records show. Actavis isn't willing to pay more, even if a white knight were to come into the picture with a higher bid, Wessman said.

Actavis has also tried to drum up support among Pliva's main shareholders. Wessman said the company had contacted 15 to 20 investors.

If Actavis fails to acquire Pliva, it will continue to grow through acquisitions by targeting other, smaller generic drug companies than Pliva.

"There are other opportunities," he said.

Pliva earlier Thursday said it was "pursuing preliminary discussions with a number of other interested parties."

Mandic also said Pliva had some questions regarding the revised offer, and once those are clarified, the company would decide whether to move forward with formal discussions.

Wessman said he considered Pliva's response to be "positive."