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McKesson makes $8.3 billion bid for German peer Celesio

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - U.S. drugs distributor McKesson (NYS:MCK) made an $8.3 billion (5.1 billion pounds) takeover bid for German peer Celesio (GER:CLS1) to boost its purchasing power with global drug makers.

San Francisco-based McKesson, the largest U.S. drugs wholesale group, struck a deal to purchase the 50.01 percent stake in Celesio owned by the diversified holding company Franz Haniel & Cie (FHANI.UL) and is also offering to buy up the remaining shares for 23 euros apiece, McKesson said on Thursday.

It will also make a public tender offer for the outstanding convertible bonds of Celesio.

"The combined company will be one of the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers and providers of logistics and services in the healthcare sector worldwide," the U.S. group said.

The 23 euro per share bid represents a premium of about 43 percent over the stock price since speculation began in June that majority owner Haniel might sell its stake.

The total transaction, including the assumption of Celesio's outstanding debt, values the target at about 8.3 billion, McKesson added.

McKesson would gain about 22 billion euros (18.7 billion pounds) in annual revenues from Celesio, creating a more than $150 billion global drugs wholesale and pharmacies group.

That would by far eclipse by size another transatlantic tie-up in drugs trading, the purchase of a 45 percent stake in European pharmacy chain Alliance Boot's by U.S. peer Walgreen Co. last year.

McKesson and its closest U.S. rivals AmerisourceBergen (NYS:ABC) and Cardinal Health (NYS:CAH), which between them account for 95 percent of the U.S. market, are all looking to grow abroad to gain purchasing power with drug makers.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Victoria Bryan)