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By Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss
BAD VILBEL, Germany, March 29 (Reuters) - The head of German drugmaker Stada, whose company is at the centre of a takeover battle, confirmed he had been the victim of wiretapping last year.
“I have no reason to assume that any confidential business information went into the wrong hands,” Chief Executive Matthias Wiedenfels told a news conference on Wednesday after the group announced detailed annual financial results.
Wiedenfels confirmed media reports that his car was wiretapped last year but said it happened more than nine months ago and was no longer an issue.
Germany’s Manager Magazin reported last week that Wiedenfels, who became CEO last summer, found a bugging device in his car.
The disclosure comes at a sensitive time as Stada is the subject of a takeover fight between two rival private equity consortia.
It was not clear who was responsible for the bugging and no suggestion that it was connected to the takeover battle.
Stada postponed the bidding process this month to give the competing suitors a chance to improve their offers.
“The bidding process that we have initiated is intact in every respect,” Wiedenfels told reporters at the group’s Bad Vilbel headquarters close to Frankfurt.
The takeover battle for Stada pits a combination of Advent and Permira against Bain and Cinven. Both have made takeover offers at 58 euros per share, valuing the company at 4.7 billion euros ($5.1 billion) including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
When asked about rumours that non-executive Chairman Carl Ferdinand Oetker had proposed a takeover price of 70 euros per share to the bidders, Wiedenfels said he had not heard Oetker voice such a price.
“Neither the supervisory board nor the management board have come forward with a price target,” the CEO said.
$1 = 0.9270 euros Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Victoria Bryan/Keith Weir