Novartis drops pursuit of Gen-Probe - WSJ

CHICAGO, July 19 Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:20pm EDT

CHICAGO, July 19 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NOVN.VX) is no longer actively pursuing a purchase of diagnostic test maker Gen-Probe Inc (GPRO.O), the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares of Gen-Probe, a maker of tests for infectious diseases, fell $2.51, or 3.92 percent, to $61.48 after the report.

Novartis was thought to be the sole remaining suitor for Gen-Probe after other potential buyers including Life Technologies CorpLIFE.O and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO.N) ended their pursuit last month, the sources told the Journal in a story on its website.

Another bidder could still emerge because the sale process is ongoing, other people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

A Novartis spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

A spokesman for San Diego-based Gen-Probe, a maker of tests for infectious diseases, also declined to comment.

(Reporting by Susan Kelly, editing by Bernard Orr)