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Actavis Answers Barr's Pliva Bid

The battle of the Balkans may not be over, at least among generic-drug companies.

Two days after Barr Pharmaceuticals (BRL) signed a $2.2 billion agreement to buy Croatia's Pliva, a spurned suitor made an even higher bid.

Iceland's Actavis Group, whose previous $1.6 billion offer was rejected as inadequate by Pliva's management, raised its bid to $2.3 billion because it "identified greater potential synergies than previously anticipated."

The Actavis proposal "clearly represents both superior value and certainty of execution for Pliva's shareholders," said Robert Wessman, CEO of Actavis, in a prepared statement. "We look forward to receiving a positive response from Pliva's supervisory board and presenting a public offer for Pliva shareholders."

Both the Barr and Actavis bids are for cash. There was no immediate comment from Pliva. Unlike Barr's bid, Actavis said its proposal "is not conditional upon prior completion of regulatory reviews in the U.S., Germany or other jurisdictions and will bring immediate value to shareholders."

Just in case Pliva's management didn't get the message, Actavis said it has entered into call-option agreements, representing 10.7% of Pliva's shares that are traded on the Zagreb stock exchange. "The option agreements and direct and indirect ownership thus secure 20.4% of outstanding Pliva shares for Actavis," said the Icelandic company.

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