Aspen likely to cut $596M offer for Sigma

Now that Aspen Pharmacare has had a look at Sigma Pharmaceuticals' books, it's not as enamored with the Australian drugmaker. Sources tell Bloomberg that Aspen now plans to reduce its A$707 million ($596 million) offer for Sigma. But there's no offer on the table at all yet, Sigma says. And Aspen's not quite finished with its look-see at the accounts, either.

One of Aspen's worries is a possible shareholder lawsuit, Australian media reports. A group of Sigma's stockholders are planning a class-action suit, alleging that the company kept to its earnings predictions last year even though it was in no position to meet them, the shareholders' lawyer tells Bloomberg. Sigma posted a record loss in March. Three top executives jumped ship. And now the company says it may miss that annual profits forecast.

But Aspen is still pressing its suit. "Obviously [the lawsuit is] going to be weighing on the minds of the Aspen people, and if they can use it to leverage a better bid, good luck to them," Southern Cross Equities analyst Stuart Roberts tells the news service. "I suspect that's what they're trying to do now. If they were really freaked, they would have walked today."

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