DUESSELDORF, Germany Diversified holding company Franz Haniel & Cie said on Wednesday it was not in talks with U.S. drugstore chain CVS (CVS.N) to sell majority control over German drug distributor Celesio (CLSGn.DE).
German monthly Manager Magazin cited industry sources as saying that CVS was interested in buying Haniel's 50.01 percent stake in the group and had held extensive talks with Celesio Chief Executive Markus Pinger before the latter approached Haniel CEO Stephan Gemkow on June 12.
Haniel denied it was in talks with CVS over a sale and added that Celesio remained a core investment for the group, while CVS declined to comment on what it called market rumors.
A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Pinger had met with Gemkow on June 12, but not to discuss a sale to CVS but rather to inform the Haniel CEO of talks between Celesio and CVS over a possible joint purchasing cooperation.
According to manager magazine, CVS is prepared to pay Haniel a 30 percent premium to the current share price around 16 euros, amounting to as much as 2 billion euros.
Were CVS to acquire the stake, it would be required under German securities laws to launch a public tender bid for the remaining 49.99 percent of the shares held by minority investors.
The magazine said that CVS was under pressure to expand, after larger U.S. drugstore chain Walgreens bought a stake in Alliance Boots.
CVS struck its first international deal in February this year when it bought Brazil's eighth-largest drugstore chain, Drogaria Onofre.
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner and Matthias Inverardi, additional reporting by Jessica Wohl; editing by Patrick Graham)