Germany's Merck KGaA has trumped Vitrolife of Sweden and had a takeover bid for MediCult accepted by the board of the latter which is located in Jyllinge, Denmark and is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Merck has stepped in with an offer of 383 million Norwegian crowns (about $55 million), or 13.50 crowns per share. That sum represents a 65% premium to MediCult’s share price on January 13, the day before Vitrolife announced its bid for MediCult, which specialises in fertility treatments.

The offer from the Darmstadt-based group is also 27% higher than the implied value of Vitrolife's share-for-share offer, based on MediCult’s closing price on February 20 of 10.60 crowns. The Swedish firm’s bid had previously been rejected as MediCult said it did not reflect the company’s existing business or “pipeline of projects within the field of IVF products and well-defined media for stem cells applications”.

However the board has unanimously approved Merck’s bid and the firm has already obtained pre-acceptances from stockholders, representing over 16% of the total outstanding shares. MediCult will pay compensation of 600– 800,000 euros if the deal does not go through.

Merck, which noted that the transaction will be financed through existing funds or lines of credits, is getting hold of a business that had sales of around $35.3 million in 2008, up 44%.