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Icelandic drugmaker Actavis up for sale -sources

LONDON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Iceland’s Actavis, one of the world’s top makers of generic drugs, is to be offered for sale by its private-equity owners in an auction that could raise $6 billion or more, three people familiar with the situation said.

Merrill Lynch, which was hired by the Icelandic group last year to review its strategic options, is to kick off the formal auction process shortly and a deal could be clinched within three to five months, the sources told Reuters on Thursday.

“We are now much closer to a sale process ... quite possibly in the coming weeks,” said one source, noting that Actavis had just solved a problem at a U.S. factory that removed a key hurdle to a sale.

Actavis spokeswoman Hjordis Arnadottir declined to comment on the auction but said the company had been reviewing its options -- including merging with another firm, acquiring a rival or selling the business -- for several months.

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