Serbia's Galenika remains a wallflower with only Valeant in pursuit

There's no shame in a company extending a bidding deadline in hopes of attaining a better offer. But after extending its deadline for the fourth time Thursday, Serbia's state-run drugmaker Galenika Pharmaceuticals may be feeling a bit unwanted. Since the company began inviting offers in January, the U.S.-based unit of Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX) is the only candidate to make a bid, which may mean companies are weighing the risks of jumping into the Serbian market.

Belgrade-based Galenika is hardly the belle of the ball. As Reuters reports, it has a debt of about 170 million euros ($223 million) and needs about 50 million euros in additional capital in 2013. According to Reuters, the Serbian government is selling it, as well as various other unprofitable state enterprises, as part of an effort to shed dead weight from its budget.

But at time when pharma companies, frustrated with the slowdown in Europe and the U.S., are racing for share in emerging markets, Galenika's lack of suitors may signify that some of them are using their discretion. It was only just over a year ago that several Big Pharma companies were slapped with indictments related to a Serbian bribery investigation, illustrating one of the difficulties of working in a country the regulatory infrastructure of which isn't up to par. And earlier this month, Reuters reports, Serbian police arrested 8 Galenika managers who had been charged with embezzling 12 million euros in 2008 and 2009. While expansion is a priority for many drugmakers, for some the risks of penetrating less regulated markets may outweigh the rewards.

Valeant, on the other hand, seems to be going full speed ahead in the buyers' arena. Earlier this month, the company put out a $13 billion offer for Actavis; after that was rejected, it snatched up eye-care giant Bausch + Lomb for $8.7 billion. Any rival bidders have till June 14 to step forward.

- get Reuters' take

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