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Axis-Shield Possible Bidder Backs Away as Alere Raises Stake

Axis-Shield Plc, the maker of Afinion diagnostic tests, said a potential bidder for the company backed away after Alere Inc. doubled its stake.

Alere, which has made a hostile, 460-pence-a-share bid for Axis-Shield, said it owns or has agreed to acquire 29.9 percent of the Dundee, Scotland-based company. In an earlier statement today Waltham, Massachusetts-based Alere put its stake at 21.98 percent. The Scottish company has spurned the offer, which expires Oct. 10, as too low.

“In recent weeks, the board has been working hard on a conditional proposal from a third party which could have delivered significantly higher value for Axis-Shield shareholders,” Axis-Shield said in a statement today. “These discussions confirmed the board’s views about the fundamental value of the company. In light of today’s announcement by Alere, this third party has no current intention to make an offer.”

The potential bidder reserves the right to bid should Alere’s offer lapse or be withdrawn, Axis-Shield said.

Axis-Shield rose 7.13 pence, or 1.6 percent, to 455.5 pence at the 4:30 p.m. close of trading in London, giving the company a market value of 227.7 million pounds ($354.9 million). Alere fell 97 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $19.65 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Alere on Sept. 26 lowered the percentage of Axis-Shield shares needed to complete the purchase to more than 50 percent from 90 percent. The U.S. company will seek to delist Axis-Shield shares from the London Stock Exchange if it wins more than 75 percent of the shares, and if it surpasses 90 percent will acquire the remaining stock in a compulsory buyout, as allowed by U.K. law, Alere said.

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