GSK goes hostile in bid to acquire rival

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GlaxoSmithKline will take its $2.6bn bid for Human Genome Sciences direct to shareholders this week, after its takeover offer was rejected last month by the US biotech group’s board.

The decision to go hostile with the $13 a share cash tender offer sets GSK up for a potentially lengthy battle with those Human Genome investors who believe it is not offering enough.

“They will do fantastically well out of this – at $13 it is a steal,” said Mark Evans, a fund manager at Taube Hodson Stonex, the sixth largest investor in Human Genome with a 5.6 per cent stake.

“I still think it is very likely that they will have to pay more.”

The top 10 investors in Human Genome together own 78 per cent of the shares, putting them in the driving seat in deciding the fate of the company.

Human Genome’s board spurned the approach from Britain’s biggest drugmaker on April 19, saying it did not reflect the company’s inherent value. GSK insists its bid, at an 81 per cent premium to the price on April 18, is full and fair.

GSK and the US pioneer of gene-based drug discovery sell Benlysta together and the companies are collaborating on two other experimental drugs in late-stage trials for diabetes and heart disease that could become significant sellers.

Buying Human Genome would give GSK full rights to these partnered drugs.

A spokeswoman for GSK declined to say exactly when this week the tender would be launched.