Glaxo delay gives Wellcome chance

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The Independent Online
Analysts believe Wellcome's chances of fighting off the hostile £9bn-plus takeover bid from Glaxo by finding an alternative white knight bidder have received a boost from the predator's delay in posting its official offer document.

It looks increasingly possible Wellcome will have up to five weeks to find its preferred suitor, as brokers and sources close to both companies believe Glaxo will not post its formal offer document before it publishes interim trading results next week. They have been brought forward from 16 February.

"It obviously makes sense to do the offer document and results in tandem," a Glaxo source said.

Wellcome's main shareholder, Wellcome Trust, has said it will review its decision to commit irrevocably its 39.5 per cent stake to Glaxo if a higher bid emerges within 21 days of the offer document being published.

An industry source said: "Any delay in posting the Glaxo offer document obviously benefits Wellcome, as the clock doesn't start ticking on the 21-day time limit until then. It will be difficult to put an alternative higher bid together, and Wellcome willwelcome any extra space they can get."

The City sees only half a dozen potential alternative bidders: Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer in the US; Roche, the Swiss group, and Bayer, the German pharmaceuticals giant.

Only a few of the top companies could afford to pay a higher price without rationalisation on the scale planned by Glaxo, which Wellcome found unpalatable, one analyst said.