Axis-Shield rebuffs bid from US rival

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in Axis-Shield jumped to a 10-year high yesterday after the company rebuffed a £230m bid from its bigger US rival Alere.

The Dundee-based firm, which makes medical diagnostics kit, said that its board had unanimously rejected the proposal because it “fundamentally undervalued the company and its future prospects”.

The response came after Alere made its indicative 450p cash offer public yesterday in an attempt to open talks with the British firm.

Analysts said that while the offer represented a 37 per cent premium to the Axis-Shield’s Tuesday closing price, it did not factor in the value new developments, saying its “strategic value” was at stake.

The company, created through the merger of Shield Diagnostics and Norway’s Axis Group in 1999, is developing a new lipids panel to test for both cholesterol levels and diabetes.

“The latter could provide a serious competitive threat to Alere’s Cholestech franchise in the US,” said Chris Glasper, an analyst at Brewin Dolphin.

Shares in Axis-Shield were up 49 per cent to close at 500p yesterday, fuelled in part by market expectations of a counter bid from other rivals including Siemens or Beckman Coulter.

A spokesperson for Alere said the firm, which has made 60 acquisitions since 2004, was “disappointed” but did not say whether the firm would reconsider its offer.