At Least 10 Bidders for Ratiopharm

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German generic drugmaker Ratiopharm has attracted at least 10 first-round bids, several people familiar with the procedure told Reuters on Wednesday, indicating that a competitive auction was underway.

Bidders from the healthcare industry include Israel’s Teva (TEVA.TA), Mylan (MYL.O) of the United States, Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA) of France, China’s Sinopharm (1099.HK) and Actavis of Iceland, the sources said.

Buyout firms participating in the round of bids, which were non-binding, include TPG, Advent in collaboration with Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Permira and KKR.

One source said EQT also filed a bid.

A spokesman for Ratiopharm, put up for sale to cut its owner’s debt, declined to comment.

Teva, Actavis and all private equity companies named by the sources also declined comment.

Sanofi, Sinopharm and Mylan were not immediately available for comment.

Several sources close to the proceedings also told Reuters on Wednesday that most bids came in between 2 billion euros ($3 billion) and 2.5 billion euros.

A spokesman for Ratiopharm’s parent, the Merckle family’s investment vehicle VEM, said last week VEM was positively surprised by the number of bids and that it was “very satisfied” with the level of the offers.

Encouraged by the interest from suitors, the sale of Ratiopharm as a whole remained a priority, he said at the time.

VEM owner Ludwig Merckle is selling Ratiopharm as part of concessions made by his late father to creditor banks.

(Reporting by Philipp Halstrick, Frank Siebelt and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and by Simon Meads and Quentin Webb in London)