UPDATE 1-Australian Sigma gets bids for two drug arms - report

Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:49am EDT

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* Sigma declines to comment (Adds Sigma no comment, updates shares)

MELBOURNE, July 19 (Reuters) - Australia's Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP.AX) has received three bids for its Herron drugs arm and three bids for its Orphan Australia drugs business, as it seeks an improved bid from South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare (APNJ.J), a newspaper reported on Monday.

Sigma declined to comment on the report.

The company is battling to pay off A$100 million in debt by March under pressure from its lenders after it broke its loan covenants, reporting a loss for the year to January 2010. The first A$40 million is due in September.

The bidders for Herron and Orphan are local and overseas-based drug and healthcare companies, The Age newspaper reported.

Their bids are dependent on the outcome of talks with Aspen on its A$648 million ($563 million) offer.

Sigma's shares jumped 1.2 percent to A$0.425, bucking a slide in the broader market on hopes it might be able to ease its debt woes, but remained well below Aspen's offer price of A$0.55 a share.

Orphan licenses specialty drugs from foreign pharmaceutical companies to treat life-threatening diseases, which are mostly sold to hospitals. Herron owns a portfolio of over-the-counter pain killers and vitamins, which struggled to expand sales last year due to tough competition in supermarkets. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Balazs Koranyi)

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