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Elan says has 'Plan B' if shareholders reject deals

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish drugmaker Elan will lay out an alternative strategy if shareholders reject a string of planned deals and thereby make a bid from a U.S.-based investment group more likely to succeed.

Royalty Pharma last week increased its a hostile cash bid for Elan, conditional on the target's shareholders rejecting a series of planned transactions at a meeting due to be held on June 17.

Elan, which rejected Royalty's offer, said on Thursday there were different opinions among shareholders on one of the deals struck earlier this month, with U.S. company Theravance, and that it would look to quickly sooth concerns.

If that did not work, Elan Chief Executive Kelly Martin said the board would look at other ways to maintain the group's independence, though he did not specify what those plans would be.

"If the shareholders have a different opinion, I think what you will see is Elan immediately announce Plan B," Martin told a news conference, asked if he would continue with talks on other deals if shareholders rebuffed those already struck.

"There's always a Plan B and a C ... If they don't think the strategy is particularly beneficial to them, then the board will immediately have an alternative strategy that will be made clear very quickly."

Elan sold its 50 percent interest in Tysabri, a multiple sclerosis drug, to U.S. partner Biogen Idec in February for $3.25 billion plus royalties, aiming to use the proceeds to reward investors and fund its spending spree.

It agreed to buy two private drug firms last week, following on from a separate $1 billion deal to buy 21 percent of the royalties that Theravance receives from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Some analysts believe Elan overpaid to get a chunk of GSK's respiratory drugs revenue, a view Elan does not share but is restricted in its ability to rebut. Under Irish takeover rules, it cannot present its forecasts for the deal while Royalty's offer is still on the table.

Elan Chairman Bob Ingram nevertheless remained confident Royalty, which raised its offer to $12.50 per share from $11.25, would not get the 50 percent plus one share backing needed to complete its takeover.

"In every meeting I've had with our major long-term shareholders, there hasn't been one shareholder who said they find $12.50 attractive," Ingram said.

(Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and David Holmes)

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