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Lupin, Cipla said to bid for UCB's $1b US generics unit

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Lupin Ltd, India's second-largest drugmaker by market value, and Cipla Ltd are among companies that bid for UCB SA's US generic-drug business, people with knowledge of the matter said.

[MUMBAI]Lupin Ltd, India's second-largest drugmaker by market value, and Cipla Ltd are among companies that bid for UCB SA's US generic-drug business, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Indian companies submitted first-round offers for UCB's Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc unit in late April, the people said, asking not to be identified because the process is private. The business could be valued at about US$1 billion, four of the people said.

UCB is trying again to divest the US generics business after a previous US$1.5 billion sale to buyout firms agreed in November fell apart. Indian drugmakers have been considering acquisitions to better compete with market leader Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and boost their presence in key markets like the US.

Shares of UCB rose 1.5 per cent in Brussels trading Monday to close at the highest level in a month. There's no assurance suitors such as Lupin and Cipla will proceed to the next round of bidding, and details such as price are subject to change, the people said.

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Lupin declined to comment in an e-mailed statement. Cipla said in an e-mailed statement it's "constantly in discussions with multiple parties on potential collaboration opportunities" and can't comment on specific talks.

"We have a broad range of interested parties around the globe," Antje Witte, manager of investor relations at UCB, said by phone. "It's absolutely too early to comment." The Brussels-based drugmaker is selling Kremers Urban as it focuses on drugs for central nervous system illnesses and immunology. UCB's previous agreement to divest the generics unit was terminated in December, after the US Food and Drug Administration asked for further studies on its copy of Johnson & Johnson's Concerta pill for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Sun Pharmaceutical, India's biggest drugmaker, agreed last year to acquire domestic rival Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd in an all-stock deal valued at US$3.2 billion at the time. Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd, based in Hyderabad, agreed in April to buy UCB's brands in India for 118 million euros (US$129 million).

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