Lonza Bids $458.5 Million For Drugmaker Patheon

TORONTO (CP) -- Switzerland's Lonza Group AG has emerged as a potential friendly suitor for Canadian drugmaker Patheon Inc. (TSX:PTI) with a US$458.5-million bid Patheon says trumps a hostile takeover offer from JLL Partners Inc.

Lonza Group is offering US$3.55 per share for Patheon, well above the $2 per share offered by JLL, a New York-based investment firm.

"Our interest in Patheon is consistent with Lonza's stated strategy of expanding our offering across the pharmaceutical manufacturing value chain," Lonza chief executive Stefan Borgas said in a statement.

"An acquisition of Patheon would take us into the complementary activities of finished dosage development and manufacturing for both small molecule and biological active ingredients."

Patheon's board of directors has put its support behind the Lonza bid after rejecting JLL's offer as inadequate.

The drugmaker went to court in May in an effort to remove board candidates nominated by JLL and stop the firm from voting its restricted voting shares acquired under the bid.

JLL has extended its offer for Patheon numerous times since it first bid, and has acquired 57 per cent of Patheon's stock during its campaign to acquire the company.

Patheon chairman Paul Currie said the Lonza deal offers a significant improvement over the JLL bid.

"Based on all of the information available to it, the special committee's view has been that Patheon continuing as an independent company is a more attractive alternative than the JLL offer," Currie said.

Patheon shares soared 99 cents, nearly 40 per cent, to $3.57 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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