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Grifols CEO expects FTC approval for Talecris deal

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The head of Spain's Grifols is optimistic his company's $4 billion takeover of Talecris Biotherapeutics will win approval from U.S. antitrust regulators.

Grifols and Talecris, which is based in Research Triangle Park, both make medicines from blood plasma. The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the proposed union to make sure it doesn't lead to higher prices for such drugs. The FTC blocked an earlier Talecris takeover by an Australian company because of antitrust concerns.

“I have in my bag $4 billion sitting and waiting to be invested,” CEO Victor Grifols said at an event in Madrid, Bloomberg News reported. “I don’t know when we’ll receive the green light from the FTC. I’m sure we’ll get it, but it’s a very long process. As soon as we get approval we are going to invest it.”

Grifols and Talecris have extended the deadline for their deal to June 30, which would be more than a year after it was announced.

The fact that Grifols' CEO is discussing it suggests an FTC decision could be coming soon.

Talecris shareholders approved the deal on Feb. 14. The takeover would put the state's largest biotechnology company under foreign ownership, and could lead to job losses among Talecris' more than 2,200 local employees.

Most Wall Street analysts predict the Grifols-Talecris marriage eventually will win FTC approval, but the commission could require the companies to sell some assets or agree to specific conditions.

“We are not going to damage competition,” Grifols said at the Madrid event, where he was given the 2011 global business leader award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Spain. “We are going to act honestly with the country, honestly with the patients and honestly with the industry.”

Grifols will pay about $30.56 in cash and stock for each Talecris share, based on today’s closing price for the Spanish company.

Talecris shares fell 12 cents to close at $27.01 today. The stock began trading at $19 in September 2009.

The FTC is likely to approve the deal with “stringent conditions” such as forcing Grifols to sell off Talecris’s Melville, N.Y., site, Rodolphe Besserve, an analyst at Societe Generale, told Bloomerg.

“Grifols needs to do the deal, so they will accept all types of conditions,” Besserve said.

Talecris also owns a massive drug manufacturing plant in Clayton, which is expanding its production capacity. Analysts expect that plant won't be affected much, since it's a key asset for Talecris and Grifols.

If the FTC blocks the deal, Grifols would have to pay Talecris a $375 million breakup fee.

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About the blogger

Assistant Business Editor Alan M. Wolf joined the N&O in 1999 covering the business of health care. He became an editor in 2001, and helps oversee the paper's daily business coverage and Sunday Work&Money section. He lives in Clayton with his wife and two children. Reach him at 919-829-4572 or e-mail him.
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