Singer Builds Celesio Stake as Stock Rises Above Bid

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Paul Singer built a stake in German drug distributor Celesio AG, in a sign that he may be trying to extract a higher price for his shares as part of McKesson Corp.’s planned acquisition of the company.

The hedge-fund manager’s New York-based Elliott Management Corp. holds 11.68 percent of the voting rights in Stuttgart, Germany-based Celesio, the company said in a statement today. Celesio’s shares are trading above the 23-euro price offered by McKesson.

Elliott has a history of pushing for change at companies involved in mergers and acquisitions. The firm became the largest shareholder in Kabel Deutschland Holding AG this year when the cable operator was the subject of a 7.7 billion-euro ($10.4 billion) takeover offer from Vodafone Group Plc. Elliott also tried unsuccessfully to oust board members of Swiss drugmaker Actelion Ltd. in 2011, partly to push the company into considering a sale.

In Germany, investors can refuse to sell during a takeover attempt and ask for a higher price, leaving a court to decide on the stock’s value. Celesio spokesman Rainer Berghausen declined to comment. Stephen Spruiell, a spokesman for Elliott Management, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

McKesson, based in San Francisco, agreed on Oct. 24 to buy Celesio for about 3.9 billion euros to boost its share of the growing global generic-drug market. McKesson will acquire the 50.01 percent stake held by Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH, a family-owned investment company, for 23 euros a share, and begin a tender offer to buy the remaining publicly traded shares at the same price.

Celesio climbed 0.5 percent to close at 23.16 euros at the close of trading in Frankfurt, above the offer price for the third day in the past four, based on closing prices.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Eva von Schaper in Munich at evonschaper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net