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Axis-Shield resists new Alere takeover attempt

UK-based diagnostics company Axis-Shield has urged shareholders to resist a fresh takeover attempt by US rival Alere.

In a statement today, Alere repeated its offer to Axis-Shield’s shareholders of 460 pence per share, which was formally made on 5 August. The offer, rejected by the Axis-Shield board, values the business at £230 million.

Alere announced today that it is lowering the threshold of its bid, which had been set at 90% of shareholder acceptance. The company said it now required more than 50% of voting rights, giving it the option of becoming a majority shareholder in Axis-Shield.

The US company also warned that if its offer were to lapse by a deadline of 10 October, “there is a strong possibility that Axis-Shield's share price would fall significantly below its current share price, particularly as no other potential bidder has announced its interest publicly”.

Alere said it was also looking at “alternative acquisitions, particularly in light of current valuations and market conditions”, and that it didn’t necessarily have to acquire Axis-Shield in order to achieve its “strategic objectives”.

In response, Axis-Shield’s board said it was “disappointed” that Alere had not taken notice of the “firm rebuttal” from shareholders to its offer, which it said was clear by the less than 1% level of acceptances that was disclosed in an Alere announcement on 16 September.

“The board has been more than willing to engage with Alere if Alere were to put a proposal to the board that fairly reflected the fundamental value of Axis-Shield. To date, no such proposal has been received from Alere,” said an Axis-Shield statement.

“The company has made excellent progress in the first half of the year and is on track to deliver for the second half of the year. The company believes that Alere is making a highly opportunistic offer in order to try and acquire Axis-Shield on the cheap.”

The 460 pence per share offer price represents a premium of 37% on the closing share price of 335 pence on 5 July 2011 – the last business day before Alere revealed it was considering an approach.

Posted on: 26/09/2011

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