December 9, 2010 / 3:51 PM / 10 years ago

Bayer, Boehringer, Novartis vie for vet ops-sources

FRANKFURT, Dec 9 (Reuters) - At least three healthcare companies have made initial bids and remain in the race for animal health operations put on sale by Merck & Co (MRK.N) and Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA), people familiar with the process said.

Germany’s Bayer (BAYGn.DE), its unlisted domestic rival Boehringer Ingelheim as well as Switzerland’s Novartis NOVN.VX have advanced to the second round of the sale of assets with about $500 million in annual revenue, several sources close to the bidders said on Thursday.

They declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Bayer, Novartis and Boehringer declined to comment.

At Sanofi and Merck, no one was immediately available to comment.

Uncertainty remains whether U.S. pharmaceutical groups Eli Lilly (LLY.N), with its Elanco animal health unit, would also bid.

A preliminary decision on who will remain in the bidding process is expected in late January, two of the sources said.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger, Frank Siebelt and Philipp Halstrick

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