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McKesson bids $8.3b for a rival, Celesio

BERLIN — The US pharmaceutical distributor McKesson Corp. has launched an $8.3 billion takeover offer for German competitor Celesio AG.

McKesson signed an agreement Thursday with German company Haniel to acquire its 50.01 percent stake in Celesio and is making an offer to other shareholders at 23 euros a share. The offer represents a 5.8 percent premium to Celesio’s closing share price on Wednesday. San Francisco-based McKesson is also assuming Celesio’s outstanding debt, lifting the value of the deal up to $8.3 billion. Celesio’s management has welcomed the offer.

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McKesson supplies medicines to half of US hospitals, as well as to doctors and health plans. It has more than 37,000 employees and reported revenue of $122.7 billion last year.

Stuttgart-based Celesio has about 38,000 employees, operates in 14 countries, runs 2,200 pharmacies, and posted revenue of about $29.5 billion in 2012.

The two companies plan to maintain their own brands after the deal is completed, McKesson said.

McKesson shares rose $6.95, or 4.9 percent, to $150 in New York. Earlier the stock reached a record high of $155.

Celesio shares gained 5.5 percent at 22.91 euros in Frankfurt.

Fitch Ratings said it will review McKesson’s ratings for a possible downgrade. Fitch has an ‘A-’ rating on McKesson’s credit. That rating is investment grade and four notches above ‘‘junk’’ status.

‘‘The proposed Celesio deal is strategically sound, but its funding is likely to significantly increase McKesson’s debt load,’’ Fitch said. The firm said McKesson has a lot of leverage considering its current rating.

McKesson reported its fiscal second-quarter results on Thursday. The company said its net income rose 1 percent, from $401 million, or $1.67 per share, to $404 million, or $1.74 per share . Excluding one-time charges, McKesson said it earned $2.27 per share.

Revenue grew 11 percent, from $29.78 billion to $32.95 billion.

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