Sigma shareholder wants higher Aspen bid - paper

SYDNEY, July 8 (Reuters) - Orbis Australia, one of the biggest shareholders of Sigma Pharmaceuticals SIP.AX, said that a takeover offer from South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare APNJ.J was less than generous, the Australian Financial Review said.

Orbis, which holds an 8.2 percent stake in Sigma, said that the 55 cent per share offer for the drug maker was low and the board should negotiate to at least get Aspen’s earlier, 60 cent per share offer back on the table, the AFR said on Thursday.

Aspen, Africa’s largest drug company, reduced its offer to A$0.55 a share on Wednesday from A$0.60 following a review of Sigma’s books and Sigma’s writedown of its generic unit. The cut lowered the size of the bid to A$648 million ($552 million) from A$707 million previously.

Analysts have said it would be difficult for Sigma, which controls about a quarter of Australia’s generics drugs market, to recommend the lower offer, considering that its shares were trading at more than double the offer level just a year ago.

Sigma’s board has recommended shareholders take no action for now but analysts said it was likely to reject the offer. (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi)