As expected, the supervisory board at Schering AG issued a statement rejecting a takeover bid by fellow German company Merck KGaA, saying the $17.4 billion offer "does not reflect our company’s value."

An official rebuttal to Merck’s advance was on the cards after it got a frosty reception from Schering’s chief executive, Hubertus Erlen, and the rest of the management team on Monday.

Merck first proffered its 77 euros-per-share offer over the weekend, saying a combination of the two businesses would create a specialised pharmaceutical and chemical company with the scale and muscle to compete on the global stage. Schering’s shares are currently trading above 82 euros.

“The supervisory board supports Schering's management to take all measures to increase the value of Schering as an independent company," said Erlen, although analysts have suggested that other companies may now come forward and try to top Merck’s bid.