Pfizer rejoins Ratiopharm race with $4B bid

There's a brand new plot twist in the Ratiopharm sale saga: Pfizer is reportedly preparing a $4 billion bid, putting it back in the race for the German generics maker.

Pfizer had pulled out of the auction process earlier on, leaving Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Actavis as the two remaining bidders. But sources tell Reuters that Pfizer was asked to rejoin the party, and that it's expected to offer up a "competitive" bid package.

Ratiopharm has been on the block for a while, as the Merckle family seeks to raise cash to retire debt. The sale is part of a settlement made with creditors after patriarch Adolf Merckle lost big money during the financial crisis; he later committed suicide. At this point, the auction process is expected to continue for a few more weeks, with a decision coming sometime around month's end.

If Pfizer were to win the day, it would be yet another case of Big Pharma snapping up a generics maker in order to diversify. In Pfizer's case, generics could help the company hedge against the future loss of revenue when mega-blockbuster Lipitor falls off patent. But sources have said that Iceland's Actavis--which ironically had its own troubles with an owner caught flatfooted by the financial crisis--has made a solid bid to merge with Ratiopharm.

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