Primary Wins Majority Interest in Target Symbion

Primary Health Care said on Tuesday it had secured more than 50 percent of medical testing company Symbion Health, taking its A$2.7 billion ($2.4 billion) bid closer to the finish

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Primary said it now had relevant interest in 52.27 percent of Symbion stock.

Primary said it had not yet declared its offer unconditional, but would do so providing certain conditions were not triggered before the end of trade on Tuesday.

Symbion said on Monday it would back Primary's offer of A$4.10 a share if Primary reached 50.1 percent and declared its offer unconditional. Analysts said

Symbion's move could accelerate shareholder acceptances of the Primary offer.

Primary's bid, which it said last week it would not raise, is due to close on Feb. 21.

Primary has been engaged in a bitter battle over Symbion's assets with private hospital operator Healthscope since last year, when Primary used its stake in Symbion to block a proposed agreed takeover by Healthscope.

At stake is control of lucrative assets in an Australian healthcare sector set for rapid growth as the population ages and use of private health insurance increases.