Richter dismisses talk it is a takeover target for Forest

BUDAPEST Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:59am EST

BUDAPEST Jan 14 (Reuters) - Hungarian drugmaker Richter has dismissed as "entirely unrealistic" market speculation that U.S. peer Forest Laboratories Inc might consider it as a potential takeover target.

"We believe that this is entirely unfounded market gossip," Richter spokeswoman Zsuzsa Beke told Reuters on Tuesday in response to a question.

"We believe that Forest does not intend to make a hostile takeover, this is entirely unrealistic," she said.

Forest was not immediately available for comment.

The two companies are linked through a planned new antipsychotic drug, Cariprazine, discovered by Richter and licensed to Forest in the United States and Canada.

The Hungarian state holds a 25 percent stake in Richter which it renewed in an exchangeable bond transaction late last year. That stake serves in part to prevent any hostile takeover attempts, Richter's chief executive Erik Bogsch has said.

Richter shares rose 3.5 percent in Monday trade on the Budapest Stock Exchange, outperforming the wider market. The shares were down 1.3 percent at 4,695 forints ($21.47) by 0925 GMT on Tuesday.

Some market players said Monday's gains may have been fuelled by recent takeover activity by Forest.

"The company announced its purchase of Aptalis last week and flagged further acquisitions, which led many to consider Richter as a target," analysts at brokerage Equilor said.

Forest said last week it would buy speciality pharmaceutical maker Aptalis from private equity firm TPG Capital for $2.9 billion in a deal it promised would increase next year's earnings.

Analysts at Erste Bank have said gains in Richter shares over the past week were also fuelled by expansion prospects flagged by its chief executive to Reuters in an interview.

($1 = 218.6802 Hungarian forints) (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Mark Potter)

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