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Testmaker’s activist spat risks M&A rerun

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An employee of a testing company Qiagen holds a test kit as Economy Minister Andreas Pinkwart and Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann of the German state Northrhine Westphalia visit Qiagen's facility, in Hilden, Germany, September 8, 2020.

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LONDON, June 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Qiagen (QIA.DE) is once again under the activist spotlight. Hedge fund Davidson Kempner on Wednesday renewed its attack on the 10 billion euro genetic testing group’s board, criticising its “history of ineffectiveness” and calling for Chairman Lawrence Rosen and board member Elizabeth Tallett to step down.

Last year Davidson Kempner played a key role in blocking a takeover by Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO.N). That stance has been vindicated: the company’s shares are trading at around 41 euros, implying the U.S. group’s final 43 euro per share offer contained little premium.

Qiagen might ignore the latest interjection. Davidson Kempner owns a 3% stake and shareholders this week reappointed both Rosen and Tallett. Still, the company is trading at just over 20 times forward earnings, a discount to peers DiaSorin (DIAS.MI) or BioMerieux (BIOX.PA), according to Refinitiv. That could tempt another bidder. Rosen has been on the board since 2013. Setting a deadline for him to hand over looks prudent. (By Neil Unmack)

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Editing by Peter Thal Larsen and Karen Kwok

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