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Express Scripts lifts bid for Caremark

March 08, 2007|From Reuters

PHILADELPHIA — Express Scripts Inc. sweetened its bid for Caremark Rx Inc. on Wednesday after suffering two setbacks in its battle to wrest the rival pharmacy-benefit manager away from a $22.8-billion deal with CVS Corp.

Express Scripts, which offered to pay interest on the cash portion of its offer, said it expected to receive a "second request" for information from the Federal Trade Commission on its $26.6-billion offer to buy Caremark.

The company had hoped to avoid such a request and have a speedier antitrust review. Express Scripts declined to elaborate on the information sought by the FTC but said a deal with Caremark could close no later than the third quarter of 2007.

Maryland Heights, Mo.-based Express Scripts also suffered a disappointment when a Delaware court refused its request Wednesday to delay Caremark shareholders from voting on the offer from CVS, the No. 2 drugstore chain.

The court previously had forced Nashville-based Caremark to delay the meeting, which is now scheduled for March 16, but Delaware Chancery Court Judge William Chandler refused to postpone the vote again.

"Express Scripts' ability to pursue its ill-advised bid for Caremark will now be delayed for a minimum of several additional months, leaving Caremark shareholders even more exposed to ending up with a transaction on substantially reduced terms or no deal at all," Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS said.

The CVS-Caremark deal has passed regulatory scrutiny and could close in mid-March, pending shareholder approval.

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