Persevering in Eastern Europe despite unrest, Stada eyes more deals

Stada CEO Hartmut Retzlaff

Trouble in the Ukraine and Russia forced Germany's Stada to cut its earnings forecast two months ago. Now, Stada CEO Hartmut Retzlaff says the company hasn't gone sour on its expansion plans for Eastern Europe and the region.

In fact, Retzlaff says, Stada is eyeing some promising deals. And it still plans to grow in the region via M&A. "We are currently in talks over a number of very promising transactions," Retzlaff said at today's annual meeting, according to the text of a speech to shareholders (as quoted by Reuters).

Retzlaff was more cagey about the targets themselves; he declined to identify any of them. Stada will disclose its M&A plans to shareholders if and when circumstances require it, he said.

Retzlaff may want to move quickly if he wants to keep Stada independent, and for years, he's maintained that he does. Long a rumored takeover target, Stada most recently was tagged as a potential buy for U.S.-based generics maker Mylan ($MYL), which was spurned in April by the Swedish drugmaker Meda. And with M&A so hot in the pharma business, Stada could be the object of many a drugmaker's deal hopes.

Obviously, Retzlaff would rather join the M&A buffet himself, rather than be eaten by a larger drugmaker. Though Stada has had a tough time closing some potential deals, it managed to snap up an over-the-counter drugmaker, Thornton & Ross, last year for $345 million. If it can build some more heft in Eastern Europe--or wherever it finds a good deal--it might be able to fend off unwanted suitors. At least for now.

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