Acino to Be Acquired by Avista, Nordic for $439 Million

Acino Holding AG, a Swiss drugmaker, agreed to be acquired by private-equity firms Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital for about 398 million Swiss francs ($439 million).

Acino holders will be offered 115 francs a share in cash in a tender offer, the Aasch, Switzerland-based company said in a statement on its website today. That’s 33 percent above yesterday’s closing price of 86.50 francs a share.

The sale will give Acino investment it needs to expand, according to the company. Acino’s board unanimously supports the offer, the company said. Acino’s stock has fallen 62 percent in the past five years, while the Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceutical Index has gained 57 percent.

“The share price has suffered over the past five years from less-than-optimal communications with the investor community, earnings disappointments and drug delays,” Odile Rundquist, an analyst at Helvea SA in Geneva, wrote in a note today. “This announcement is very good news.”

Acino soared 32 percent to 114 francs at 9:25 a.m. in Zurich, the biggest increase on record for the company, which sold shares on the Swiss stock exchange in 1994. The stock fell 21 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 21 percent return for the Bloomberg index that tracks European pharmaceuticals.

‘Buy and Build’

H. Lundbeck A/S Chairman Hakan Bjorklund, an executive at Avista, will be chairman of Acino if the acquisition is completed.

“We are excited about this transaction as it combines compelling value to our shareholders with a long-term vision for Acino and its employees,” Acino Chairman Luzi A. von Bidder said in the statement. “Avista and Nordic Capital are well-suited partners for Acino. They have proven ‘buy and build’ capabilities and the financial resources that will significantly enhance Acino’s growth opportunities.”

The tender offer is expected to run from Oct. 21 through Nov. 15, and at least two thirds of shareholders must accept for the deal to go through.

Lazard Ltd. is lead financial adviser to Avista and Nordic Capital, and Credit Suisse Group AG also advised the private-equity firms. Acino used Ernst & Young LLP for a fairness opinion, which will be published with the prospectus, and Baer & Karrer AG as legal advisors, said Eva Kalias, an outside spokeswoman for Acino.

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