January 18, 2018 / 12:34 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Largest Ablynx investor would consider improved Novo Nordisk bid

(Adds spokesman, background, share price)

BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The largest shareholder in Belgian biotech group Ablynx regards the 2.6 billion euro ($3.2 billion) offer made by Denmark’s Novo Nordisk as too low but would be willing to consider a higher figure.

Van Herk Investments, which owns about 10.2 percent of Ablynx, said it agreed with the Belgian company’s board that the offer undervalued Ablynx’s caplacizumab treatment for rare blood disorders, its pipeline, technology, people and know-how.

The vehicle of Dutch investor Aat van Herk said in a statement that it was willing to consider an offer for Ablynx that properly reflects the value of the company.

If Van Herk Investments considers a potential offer properly reflects the value of Ablynx its intention is to encourage the Ablynx board to enter open dialogue with the bidder, it said.

Analysts have predicted that Novo Nordisk might face counter-bidders and would need to raise its offer.

Van Herk had not spoken to Novo Nordisk but is willing to talk even without an improved offer, a spokesman for Van Herk said. He declined to specify what would constitute a reasonable price.

“The company is on the brink of being a commercial-stage biotech company. There are not a lot of these companies in Europe, so it is a very big achievement,” he said.

Novo Nordisk had been very open about its interest in Ablynx’s lead product, he said, but it was important that other programmes continued. The Danish bidder has said it would maintain Ablynx’s strong research and development base in the Belgian city of Ghent.

Novo Nordisk is offering up to 30.50 euros per Ablynx share.

The shares were trading at 34.66 euros on Thursday, giving it a market capitalisation of 2.95 billion euros. ($1 = 0.8203 euros)

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and David Goodman

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