Sources: Pfizer to place Ratiopharm bid today

It's coming down to the wire: Ratiopharm bids are due Thursday, and Reuters sources say Pfizer will come to the party early. The world's largest drugmaker is planning to submit its final bid for the company today, they say.

The Merckle family put Ratiopharm up for sale to raise money to pay down debts. The company has a couple of big inducements: Its solid position in Germany, Europe's largest pharma market, and its role as a generics maker at a time when many top drugmakers are looking to diversify into that market.

So, the company has attracted quite a lot of interest; the bidders that remain include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world's largest generics maker, and Actavis, the generics firm based in Iceland that reportedly could take Ratiopharm public. Word is that Actavis' offer is the largest now on the table at about 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion); sources have also said the winning bid could come in as high as $4.4 billion.

Pfizer reportedly has pledged to plow lots of money into growing Ratiopharm, making it the flagship of its new established products unit. However, it may also look at Stada as a "consolation prize" if it loses out on Ratiopharm, Reuters reports. And some see Stada as a better fit for the pharma giant. "It would make a lot of sense for Pfizer to look at [Stada] and, in fact, it is probably a more attractive fit because it also has some emerging market businesses which Ratiopharm doesn't," Reuters quotes one banker as saying.

Still, one can expect some drama over the next two days. Whatever the promises, whatever the bids, we're likely to get news of a winner soon. The waiting is almost over.

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