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Merck in deal to take full control of Japan drug firm

Tokyo, March 7 (AFP): US pharmaceutical giant Merck today said it has sealed a $ 1.5-billion deal paving the way for full control of Japanese counterpart Banyu, despite reported complaints from investors that the price was too low.

The agreement will raise Merck’s stake in Banyu Pharmaceutical to around 95 per cent from 51 per cent.

Although Merck was hoping to take a 100 per cent stake in Banyu, the US firm called its tender offer bid successful as it surpassed the 80 per cent threshold required to delist Banyu from the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Banyu is expected to be delisted around July or August, Merck said.

“We are very pleased about the outcome and wish to thank all Banyu shareholders that supported our tender offer,” David Antice, president of human health and responsible for Merck’s business in Japan, said in a statement.

Although Merck won investors round, the takeover was not all smooth sailing due to opposition from some Banyu investors who complained the offer price of 1,400 yen a share was too low, reports said.

Elliott advisors, a firm that advises investment funds, had written to the Banyu board asking it to reject Merck's takeover bid immediately and seek independent financial advice, The Financial Times reported.

The deal would enable Banyu to enhance its position in the world's second largest pharmaceutical market, the statement from Merck said.

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