Generics Unit of Germany's Merck Gets Four Final Bids

Merck, Germany's drugs and chemicals group, received four final bids for its generics drugs business, sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

Actavis Group, Mylan Laboratories and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries submitted bids, while private equity firms Bain Capital and Apax Partners submitted a joint offer, sources said.

The bids were submitted by Monday's deadline, sources said, but details of the offers were not immediately available. Sources previously told Reuters the bids were expected to be about 4 billion euros ($5.46 billion).

Merck and the bidders could not be immediately reached for comment.

Merck said earlier this year it was reviewing a possible sale of the business and hired Bear Stearns as its adviser. After the offers are reviewed, the list of bidders will be narrowed to two finalists, with a final decision expected by mid-to-late-May, sources said.

Selling the business could help cut debt that Merck took on to help finance its purchase of Swiss group Serono, Europe's biggest biotech company.

Merck's generics business had sales of 1.8 billion euros in 2006, ranking the unit fourth in the world behind Teva, Novartis's Sandoz unit and Barr Pharmaceuticals .