February 27, 2018 / 10:51 AM / a year ago

Fresenius may back out of Akorn deal if probe finds breaches

Fresenius CEO Stephan Sturm attends the company's annual news conference in Bad Homburg near Frankfurt, Germany, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BAD HOMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Fresenius (FREG.DE) may back out of the planned acquisition of Akorn (AKRX.O) if its probe into data integrity at the U.S. maker of liquid generic drugs yields evidence of wrongdoing, the German healthcare group’s chief executive said.

“If the allegations prove to be conclusive and are so material that they would impact our targets, then we will withdraw from the contract,” Stephan Sturm told a news conference on Tuesday.

If they prove to be untrue, the company will go through with the acquisition as planned, he said.

Fresenius had said late on Monday it was conducting an independent investigation into “alleged breaches” at Akorn of U.S. Food and Drug Administration data integrity requirements relating to product development.

Its shares rose 2.3 percent to 66.54 euros to the top of Germany's blue-chip DAX index .GDAXI by 1044 GMT as investors cheered that Fresenius may have found an exit route from the deal.

Akorn’s business has deteriorated since Fresenius struck the acquisition agreement in April, valuing the maker of medical creams, ophthalmic drugs and oral liquids at $4.75 billion.

“Many of Fresenius SE shareholders would, we suspect, be glad to see the company walk away. However, this is not likely to be without cost as should it seek to do so it could become embroiled in lengthy litigation,” analysts at Berenberg said.

Reporting by Patricia Uhlig; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Tom Sims and Louise Heavens

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