Celesio Shares Advance on McKesson Bid Report: Stuttgart Mover

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Celesio AG shares jumped the most in 17 years after a report that McKesson Corp. is in talks with majority shareholder Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH to acquire the German drug wholesaler.

Celesio rose 20 percent to 20.49 euros, its biggest one-day advance since at least 1996. McKesson gained 3.2 percent to $133.72 in New York, its highest closing price since the shares began trading in 1994.

McKesson has gained access to Stuttgart, Germany-based Celesio’s books and may value the company at about 22 euros a share, a premium of 29 percent to yesterday’s closing price, Dow Jones reported earlier today, citing people it didn’t identify. San Francisco-based McKesson may announce a bid for the company as early as this month, according to the report.

“Celesio is among the top players in the European and Brazilian pharmaceutical trading sector and is thus an obvious takeover target,” Thomas Maul, an analyst at DZ Bank AG in Frankfurt, said in a note to clients today.

The stock has climbed 57 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 3.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion), amid speculation the company could be sold. Celesio owns Brazilian drug wholesaler Panpharma SA.

A possible Celesio sale comes as medical expenses rise and governments cut spending in Europe. Drug wholesalers have been examining their positions in Europe and ways to reduce costs since Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, bought a 45 percent stake of U.K. pharmacy owner Alliance Boots in 2012.

Spokesmen for Celesio and Haniel declined to comment. Representatives of McKesson didn’t respond to an e-mail and phone messages seeking comment.

“With a full disposal of its stake in Celesio, Haniel could wipe out its debt at a stroke, leaving the way open for Haniel to invest in new activities,” Maul said.

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