Ranbaxy Makes bid for Merck's Generic Drugs Unit

Indian drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories said Tuesday it has submitted a bid for the generics unit of Germany's Merck but did not disclose how much it was offering.

Analysts believe the unit could be worth as much as 5 billion euros ($6.58 billion). Last year, the unit's sales rose 6.9% to 1.8 billion euros ($2.37 billion).

Ranbaxy told The Associated Press in an e-mail that the bid had been submitted to the German drug and chemical maker. Chief Executive Dr. Malvinder Singh said his company would not get caught up in a bidding war for the unit.

"We are looking to evaluate the asset and we are going to be very practical about it," he said in a statement sent to The AP. "We are not in a rat race for acquisitions but are focused on creating value for our shareholders in the best way we can."

A Merck spokeswoman had no comment about the bid.

Merck said last month it had started contacting companies that may be interested in acquiring its generics drugs unit, reiterating a previous statement that it was amenable to the possible sale of the division.

So far, two companies have publicly expressed their interest, Ranbaxy and Iceland's Actavis Group HF.

Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceuticals company. It has been entirely separate from New Jersey-based Merck & Co. since the end of World War I and employs some 29,000 people.

Shares of Merck fell more than half a percent to 93.62 euros ($123.17) in Frankfurt.