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AIT and former boss raise their offer for Goldshield

The race for generic drug-maker Goldshield intensified yesterday when AIT Investments, a consortium led Israel's Fuhrer family and the group's former chief executive Ajit Patel, offered £176.8m for the company.

The 480p-a-share bid bettered AIT's initial approach and follows a clutch of offers for Goldshield, which specialises in producing drugs for conditions such as osteoarthritis. Last month AIT offered 440p a share, before upping it to 450p amid speculation that a rival approach would be made by the group's existing management team, led by chief executive Rakesh Patel.

Rakesh Patel and his team, who have been considering a bid for a number of months, joined forces with Midas Bidco to offer 460p a few days the initial AIT offer. Midas is run by buyout specialists Hg Capital.

Goldshield's management had approached the non-executive directors about an offer in January, but it was too low to offer to shareholders. A further offer was made in July, but it again fell below the 440p-a-share bid made by AIT.

Ajit Patel left Goldshield in June 2007 after being charged by the Serious Fraud Office, along with the company itself, over an alleged conspiracy to fix the price of certain drugs and therefore defraud the NHS.

The SFO case collapsed last December after it was refused leave to appeal against a ruling that had found in favour of Mr Patel and Goldshield.

Yesterday's offer represents a 48.4 per cent premium to Goldshield's closing price on Thursday evening, although the shares have drifted in recent days.

AIT is an investment vehicle for the Fuhrer family and also owns Neopharm, an Israeli generic drug group. The final decision on the sale rests with Schroders, which owns 29 per cent of Goldshield.