Roche says controlling family won't have to make offer to other shareholders

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) – Roche said on Friday that its controlling family will be exempt from having to make an offer to other shareholders after the drugmaker’s $20.7 billion deal to buy back Novartis’s nearly one third voting stake.

The pool of family shareholders, who previously owned 45.01% of the voting rights in Roche, were given the exemption by the Swiss takeover board, the company said. The decision was confirmed on the takeover board’s website.

In Switzerland a mandatory offer obligation is normally triggered whenever a shareholder or group of shareholders directly or indirectly acquires equity securities in a listed Swiss company that exceed 33.33% of the voting rights.

Roche said on Thursday, when the Novartis deal was announced, that it will use debt to finance what it called a “disentanglement of two competitors” and plans to reduce its capital by cancelling the repurchased shares to regain full strategic flexibility.

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