US company goes to court over bid for Sirtex

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US-based Varian is seeking a federal court order that will allow shareholders to vote on its proposed $1.6 billion takeover of Australian cancer company Sirtex (ASX:SRX).

The shareholder meeting was originally called to consider Varian's $28 per share bid for Sirtex. Varian submitted the bid in January.

However, the Chinese company CDH Investments formally submitted a $1.9 billion bid for Sirtex last week. Its bid values the company at $33.60 per share.

Varian decided not to match the CDH bid and has taken action in the federal court to ensure a shareholder vote proceeds on its $1.6 billion offer.

In a statement, Sirtex said the federal court will consider Varian's push for the shareholder meeting. "If approved, a date will be set later in July for the scheme meeting to be held," it said.

Sirtex said its directors "continue to unanimously support and recommend the Varian Scheme." It added the federal court action will give it sufficient time to complete the assessment of the CDH bid for the company.

Sirtex is best known for its SIR-Spheres microspheres technology for the treatment of advanced liver cancer. They are used to deliver targeted internal radiation therapy directly to liver tumours via the hepatic artery. This therapy is called Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) and is performed using minimally invasive surgical techniques by an interventional radiologist.

Cancer company Varian is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, and employs approximately 6,500 people. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has a market capitalisation of approximately US$11.8 billon.

CDH is a China-based alternative asset fund manager with over US$20 billion of committed capital under management.