A pile of bids from firms looking to acquire Merck KGaA’s generics unit have landed on the German group’s desk and most of the usual suspects would appear to have expressed an interest.

However one company that is no longer a contender is Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy’s which has decided not to bid, according to The Economic Times. The newspaper quoted a company spokesman as saying that although the firm was interested, the sums being mentioned are too much and the timing is not right. It is thought that Merck’s generics operations, which is being sold as it is now a non-core operation after the company’s recent acquisition of Switzerland’s Serono, could fetch over $6 billion.

That sort of figure does not seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of other companies as Ranbaxy Laboratories’ chief executive Malvinder Singh confirmed that his firm has made a bid that is “realistic and practical.’’ Fellow Indian drugmaker Cipla is part of a private equity consortium interested in the unit, though it says it is only offering management expertise and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, along with Iceland's Actavis and Mylan Laboratories of the USA are also thought to have bid. Germany’s Stada has also been mentioned as have a whole host of private equity firms, notably Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Warburg Pincus, Bain Capital, Apax Partners and Carlyle Group.

The number of biggers suggests that Merck will be able to obtain a high price for the unit, the sale of which is being handled by Bear Stearns. A shortlist of bidders is expected to be drawn up within the next week and those firms are likely to be given further access to Merck's figures to enable them to submit final offers.