Abbott Says Alere Denies Key Access; Not Sure Deal Will Close

  • Sought info on ‘numerous occasions’ about internal control
  • Abbott has ‘seemingly endless, unreasonable requests:’ Alere

Abbott Laboratories accelerated its criticism of Alere Inc., saying that the medical-testing company it agreed to buy for $5.8 billion has improperly withheld information and made it impossible to determine when and whether the deal can be consummated.

Abbott provided a detailed list of issues that have disclosed since the purchase agreement was signed on Jan. 30 in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday. They include three U.S. Justice Department investigations -- two of which are criminal probes, a product recall, delayed SEC reports and unremediated material weaknesses in financial reporting.

“Although Alere has provided some information to Abbott, Alere has denied Abbott the access to which it is entitled under the Alere merger agreement,” Abbott said in the filing. “In light of the above, Abbott cannot predict at this time whether the Alere acquisition will occur on a timely basis, or at all.”

Alere, in a statement, reiterated that there is “absolutely no basis whatsoever for Abbott to avoid closing the merger.”

“Alere has provided Abbott with significantly more information than is required under the merger agreement, including over 931,000 pages of documentation, and Abbott’s law firm has interviewed 27 employees and representatives of Alere,” Alere said in the e-mailed statement. “Abbott continues to make seemingly endless, unreasonable requests for even more information to which it is not entitled under the merger agreement.”

While Abbott and Alere have been at a standstill for months, trading statements as the probes were disclosed and Abbott sought to back out, the back-and-forth has been accelerating.

In April, Abbott agreed to buy St. Jude Medical Inc. for $25 billion, raising further questions about the status of its Alere purchase. The two deals would swell Abbott’s debt to $31 billion, from approximately $8.9 billion, according to the filing, which was the proxy statement related to the St. Jude merger.

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