Gehe prepares new offer for Lloyds Chemists

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The Independent Online
Gehe, the German pharmaceutical giant which bid pounds 650m for Lloyds Chemists, yesterday said it might make a renewed offer for the UK company at the end of September.

Dieter Kaemmerer, chairman of Gehe's management board said: "Being very optimistic, we could possibly make a renewed bid for Lloyds at the end of September." He added that the size of the bid would depend on the amount raised from the disposal of several Lloyds warehouses.

The Office of Fair Trading and the Monopolies and Mergers Commission made the sale of seven Lloyds warehouses by October 18 a condition for Gehe to acquire the UK company.

Gehe and UniChem, the British pharmaceuticals retailer and wholesaler which is the other bidder in the long-running battle for control of Lloyds, are in agreement that the negotiations to complete the sale of the warehouses are Lloyds' responsibility. Lloyds will introduce potential buyers to the two companies.

"We are very happy that Lloyds is now in charge of these discussions," said Mr. Kaemmerer. "It would have been really difficult for us to find takers, because we didn't really know anything about the warehouses we had to sell."

Gehe also reported its interim figures for the six months to June yesterday. These showed a 30 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to DM196.2m (pounds 85m).

Turnover was 16.5 per cent higher at around DM10.5bn (pounds 4.60bn).

The group said that the results reflected the full consolidation of AAH, the British pharmaceutical wholesaler acquired last year, which was only included for part of the comparable period.

Last week, Gehe reported that operating profits at AAH had soared by 48 per cent to pounds 24.5m in first half to June, on turnover up 2 per cent to pounds 874m.

Gehe said that without the contribution from AAH, group sales would have shown an increase of 7.2 per cent.

Mr Kaemmerer made an optmistic statement on future prospects.

"We expect to see positive developments in all areas of the business during 1996," he said. "We anticipate turnover for the year to grow by around 7 per cent to around DM20.5bn. Operating profits should increase by 10 to 15 per cent."