Alere's fight for Axis-Shield heats up

Alere ($ALR) has purchased additional shares of Axis-Shield stock as it ratchets up its efforts to acquire its Scottish rival.

Late last week, Waltham, MA-based Alere announced it had upped its total ownership stake in Axis-Shield to approximately 21.98%. However Axis-Shield remained unimpressed with Alere's offer and said it "continues to believe that Alere is making a highly opportunistic offer in order to try and acquire Axis-Shield on the cheap," according to a statement. Furthermore, the Axis-Shield board has been working on a conditional proposal from a third party to gain higher value for stakeholders. But with Alere's actions, the third party has seemingly backed off--at least for now.

Not to be outdone, Alere said the same day it again had boosted its stake to almost 30%.

"It's obviously disappointing to see some of the big shareholders selling some of their shares but I would highlight that it's only part of their stakes--I think there's some hedging of bets going on there." Ian Gilham, Axis-Shield's CEO, told The Scotsman.

Alere made its initial move for Axis-Shield with its £230 million ($375 million) offer in July, but was rebuffed. It then turned to Axis-Shield shareholders directly Aug. 5., who also didn't seem too excited about the bid. The two companies have rival tests; Alere's Cholestech LDX machine competes with Axis-Shield's Afinion system, for example. "There are two reasons why they want to acquire (Afinion); either to keep it outside of the competition or to continue pushing it (to the market)," explained Daniel Stewart analyst Vadim Alexandre in August, as quoted by Reuters.

- see Alere's statement
- read Axis-Shield's release
- check out The Scotsman's report

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