Shares of Cima Labs ( CIMA) jumped more than 12% Thursday morning after the company said it received an unsolicited letter from a pharmaceutical company indicating an interest "in pursuing a business combination."

Under the proposed deal with the pharmaceutical company, which Cima declined to name, Cima shareholders would receive value of around $30 per share. The transaction would consist of a combination of cash and common stock.

Cima said its board of directors concluded there is a likelihood that the proposal "would reasonably be expected to result in a superior proposal to the stock-for-stock merger contemplated with aaiPharma."

Cima said it has entered into "a confidentiality agreement with the interested pharmaceutical company and has entered into discussions with its representatives to explore the possibility of an alternative transaction to the aaiPharma merger."

The company added, "Cima does not currently intend to provide additional information about its discussions with this pharmaceutical company, with Cephalon or with any other party that may in the future indicate an interest in a business combination with Cima until any such discussions have led to a superior proposal that the Cima board of directors has concluded that ... it is prepared to accept."

Cephalon had made a bid for Cima in early September after Cima said in August it planned to merge with aaiPharma.

Cephalon originally made a cash offer of $26 per share for Cima, which the company rejected as inadequate; then Cephalon approached Cima again, saying it was flexible and that it would be glad to discuss an offer that included a mixture of cash and stock. That was enough to sway Cima's directors to at least talk to Cephalon.

The terms of the aaiPharma proposal called for Cima shareholders to receive 1.3657 shares of stock in the new company for each Cima share.

Cima's shares were up $3.56, or 12.8%, at $31.44 in early trading Thursday.

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