Major Qiagen shareholder demands higher bid from Thermo Fisher - source

ZURICH (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic has boosted Qiagen's QIA.DE prospects and a takeover by Thermo Fisher no longer makes sense unless the offer is increased substantially, one of the German genetic test maker's top ten shareholders told Reuters on Friday.

Illustration of products are pictured from Qiagen, the diagnostics company which has agreed an $11.5 billion takeover deal with U.S-based Thermo Fisher in this picture illustration obtained by Reuters March 3, 2020. Qiagen/Handout via REUTERS

Thermo Fisher TMO.N agreed in early March to buy Qiagen QGEN.N for $11.5 billion (9.23 billion pounds) as the U.S.-based company looks to bolster its health diagnostic business.

Qiagen has seen high demand for products related to coronavirus testing and began shipping a rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 to the United States at the end of March. It beat its targets with 9% net sales growth in the first quarter and forecasts growth of at least 12% for the second quarter.

“The world has changed massively since the offer was published on March 3,” one of the ten largest shareholders in Qiagen told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“The standalone outlook is much better than the current offer,” the shareholder said, adding Qiagen was worth over 20% more than Thermo Fisher’s offer of 39 euros per share.

Thermo Fisher was not immediately available to comment.

Qiagen shares were last up 0.7% at 38.31 euros, recovering from earlier losses.

Thermo Fisher called on Qiagen investors to tender their shares in May. The acceptance period for its offer runs until July 27.

Thermo Fisher has set itself the goal of achieving a minimum acceptance threshold of 75% for its offer.

Qiagen’s management and board support the offer, but the shareholder said the boards should only stand by their approval if the offer is increased.

The shareholder also criticised Qiagen, saying the company had prematurely committed itself to negotiations with Thermo Fisher and had not followed up on enquiries from four other interested parties.

Qiagen declined to comment.

Reporting by Oliver Hirt; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Tom Sims, Sabine Wollrab and Mark Potter