* Fund takes 15 pct of S.Africa’s No.2 drug firm
* Chile’s CFR battling state pension fund for Adcock
* Foord’s intention not immediately clear
By David Dolan
JOHANNESBURG, Dec 27 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Foord Asset Management has increased to 15 percent its stake in Adcock Ingram, making it the second-largest shareholder in the hotly contested drugmaker.
The battle for Adcock, an underperforming company with a strong portfolio of over-the-counter medicines, hotted up in July when Chile’s CFR Pharmaceuticals offered $1.2 billion in cash and shares for it.
Santiago-based CFR is looking to build an emerging markets pharmaceutical powerhouse with operations in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The future of the deal is uncertain, given opposition from two of Adcock’s major shareholders, the state-run Public Investment Corporation (PIC) - which has the biggest stake at 22 percent - and local conglomerate Bidvest Holdings.
The PIC and Bidvest together hold at least 29 percent of Adcock, enough to veto the deal - which requires approval from investors holding 75 percent of Adcock - at a vote next month.
The PIC has said it does not want CFR shares.
Bidvest, which initially tried to buy control of Adcock in March but was rebuffed by the company’s board, has gone straight to shareholders with a cash offer for over a third of the company.
The PIC is also the top shareholder in Bidvest, leading to some speculation the fund is behind its counter offer, something Bidvest’s chief executive has denied.
Adcock said in a regulatory filing on Friday that Cape Town-based Foord Asset Management had acquired 15.02 percent of its shares.
That would make Foord Adcock’s second-largest shareholder after the PIC, according to the latest Thomson Reuters data. Bidvest has around 7 percent.
Foord had a 3.58 percent stake in Adcock at the end of June.
It was not immediately clear how Foord planned to vote on the CFR deal. No one was available for comment at the fund.
Founded in 1981 by investor David Foord, Foord Asset Management has around $2.5 billion in assets under management, according to Thomson Reuters data.
As of June it had a 0.5 percent stake in Bidvest. It also has a stake in Adcock’s bigger rival Aspen Pharmacare.
Shares of Adcock were up 0.3 percent at 71.28 rand. The shares have consistently remained closer to Bidvest’s offer price of 70 rand than CFR’s offer of 74.50 rand.