Daiichi Sankyo’s plan to take control of Ranbaxy could be jeopardised by a bid by Pfizer for shares not held by the Indian company’s chief executive, according to reports.

Just two days ago, Ranbaxy CEO Malvinder Mohan Singh and his family signed a deal to sell their near-35% stake to the Japanese drugmaker and the latter is planning to make an open offer for a further 20% of the Gurgaon-based firm’s shares, priced at 737 rupees per share ($17.30), which would value the transaction at around $4.6 billion. However, The Business Standard claims that Pfizer is weighing up a bid for the 65% stake owned by institutions and other investors.

The newspaper cites sources familiar with the developments who decline to be identified as saying that Pfizer held talks with Ranbaxy’s board about a possible acquisition a year ago and may be tempted to try again. However a Ranbaxy spokesperson told The Business Standard that "we have a binding agreement with Daiichi Sankyo and it is a final agreement. We will not comment on market speculation."

There would not appear to be any legal obstacle to such an offer however and Somasekhar Sundaresan, a partner at J Sagar Associates told the newspaper that “anyone can make a counter offer for the non-promoter stake within 21 days of the open offer at a comparable price.'' A Pfizer link-up would be intriguing, seeing as how it has been fighting a major legal war with Ranbaxy across the globe concerning the patent status of its blockbuster cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor (atorvastatin).

GSK and Takeda were also interested?
Meantime The Times of India has reported that as well as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co had also held talks with Ranbaxy. Also citing people “familiar with the situation”, the newspaper says that the Japanese drugmaker, which recently bought US biotechnology firm Millennium Pharmaceuticals for $8.8 billion, was put off by the number of patent disputes that Ranbaxy is involved in.

As for GSK, it recently extended an R&D pact with Ranbaxy and the firms have said the alliance is already bearing fruit as they have identified a promising compound that has the potential to treat respiratory inflammation.