Rottapharm founder's stake sale hits a snag

Members of Italy's Rovati family are taking their sweet time selling a stake in the pharma company they founded. Rottapharm-Madaus has been looking for a financial partner since last year, but talks about the potential deal have ground to a halt, Reuters reports. Sources tell the news service that there has been a temporary halt in negotiations, while one source close to the deal said the ongoing sale process would be "long ... and slow."

Private equity funds had been kicking tires at Rottapharm since founder Luigi Rovati put a share up for sale last year. Rovati was looking for an offer that would value the company at about €2 billion, or $2.6 billion. Luca Rovati, current managing director of the company, told CorrierEconomica this week that Rottapharm wants "a financial partner that could support its growth strategy on international markets," Reuters reports.

"[W]e won't proceed with any transaction" if the family isn't "fully satisfied with any of the partners we are talking to," Rovati explained. Among the interested parties was Avista Capital Partners, Reuters says, quoting the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. Last year, other private equity investors were reported to be interested, including Apax Partners, Carlyle Group, Advent International and Charterhouse. The sticking point could well be price; word last year was that the bids weren't likely to meet the family's threshold.

- see the Reuters news