£1.6bn offer for Warner Chilcott

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The Independent Online

A private equity consortium led by Goldman Sachs has tabled a formal £1.6bn offer for Warner Chilcott, the women's healthcare company based in Northern Ireland.

A private equity consortium led by Goldman Sachs has tabled a formal £1.6bn offer for Warner Chilcott, the women's healthcare company based in Northern Ireland.

The move is the first in what could potentially be a three-way bid battle for the company, which admitted last month it had received takeover approaches. Consortia headed by Bain Capital of the US and the private equity arm of CSFB, the Swiss investment bank, have also signalled their interest and been conducting due diligence.

The rivals will be under pressure to top Goldman Sachs' offer, which sources said is pitched at a share price "a little above 835p". Warner Chilcott could make a decision to accept the existing bid as early as this week.

Bain Capital has teamed up with Carlyle and Thomas H Lee for its bid, and CSFB's consortium also includes JP Morgan Partners. The Goldman Sachs consortium, which also includes the US private equity firms Blackstone and Texas Pacific, had kicked off the battle for Warner Chilcott last month with an informal offer of 800p. The shares closed at 818.5p on Friday.

Warner Chilcott has been turned, thanks to a string of acquisitions, from a contract drug manufacturer and laboratory services group into a niche pharmaceuticals company in its own right. It changed its name from Galen earlier this year.

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