Quebec's Valeant to sweeten bid, answer attacks as battle for Allergan heats up

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LAVAL, Que. - Valeant Pharmaceuticals says it will begin its latest offensive to acquire Botox-maker Allergan next week.

The Quebec-based company said Tuesday it will sweeten its US$47-billion bid and hold a "referendum" this summer to convince the U.S. company's board and management that Allergan shareholders want a merger between the two pharmaceutical companies.

Valeant CEO Michael Pearson said that Allergan (NYSE:AGN) shareholders he has spoken with want more Valeant equity.

But the Quebec-based company's board will decide in the coming days whether to increase the cash component of its offer, which has been rejected by Allergan as too low.

"We have met with many, if not most, of their shareholders privately and they have all told us they want this deal to be done," he told reporters after the Valeant's annual meeting.

The company plans to present the new offer May 28 at an event in New York, where it will respond to Allergan's criticisms.

He said charges that Valeant has no organic growth, that eyecare company Bausch & Lomb is not growing and that the company has an unsustainable business model will be countered by executives who will be flown to the meeting from around the world.

Pearson denied that Valeant is making Allergan's refusal to negotiate personal, declining to comment on co-bidder Bill Ackman's assertion Monday that Allergan CEO David Pyott has a "conflict of interest" and is blocking the deal because he could lose his job.

"We're not making this personal, this is all about business. It's all about what shareholders want. What's good for shareholders is how boards should be acting."

Allergan said Tuesday that it has received letters of support from more than 500 physician customers, patient advisory groups and medical associations supporting the California-based company's efforts to remain independent.

The U.S. company said the letters point to support for Allergan's commitment to research and development, which it said Valeant threatens as it seeks US$2.7 billion in cost savings with the takeover deal.

Pearson said Valeant has chosen not to appeal to the thousands of physician customers, many of whom support the deal.

He also said Valeant would move some of Allergan's manufacturing to Quebec and its facility in Manitoba if the deal is concluded.

Organizations: Allergan, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, NYSE Bausch Lomb

Geographic location: Quebec, U.S., New York Manitoba

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