Dexter try at takeover falls short Chemical maker raises to 71 percent its stake in Life Technologies

Biotechnology

December 24, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Dexter Corp.'s effort to take full control of Rockville-based Life Technologies Inc. came up short, the chemical maker said yesterday, but it did manage to raise its stake in Life Technologies to about 71 percent.

Dexter originally offered $37 a share in a bid to buy the 48 percent of Life Technologies it did not already own, but earlier this month raised its unsolicited offer to $39.125 after a committee at Life Technologies rejected the first bid as inadequate.

Dexter then took the offer directly to Life Technologies shareholders last month.

The new offer totals about $447 million, up from $420 million.

Dexter, based in Windsor Locks, Conn., said it wanted to buy the rest of Life Technologies to expand in profitable biotechnology products. Life Technologies makes cell nutrients and other compounds that are increasingly in demand by clinical laboratories, hospitals and biotechnology companies.

Dexter booked a 1997 profit of $56 million on sales of $1.15 billion. Life Technologies had a profit of $32.2 million on sales of $332.8 million.

Life Technologies had 24.9 million shares outstanding as of the expiration of the tender Tuesday. As of midnight, 5.5 million shares were tendered, bringing Dexter's total ownership to 17.8 million shares.

"Our goal was to have 100 percent ownership, but we're pleased with the progress and will move forward with the current stock ownership situation," said Michael Freitag, a Dexter spokesman.

Meanwhile, the company has no plans to change Life Technologies in any significant way, he said.

"Dexter has repeatedly said it has tremendous respect for the management of Life Technologies and the strategic plan it has developed," said Freitag, adding that he's not expecting any lingering bitterness over the contentious affair.

"This was purely an issue of disagreement with some shareholders over the price," he said. "It was a business decision, nothing emotional."

Joseph Stokes, Life Technologies chief financial officer, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Dexter's shares rose 25 cents to close at $30.1875, while Life Technologies shares closed unchanged at $39.25.

Pub Date: 12/24/98

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