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Valeant withdraws its bid for ISTA Pharmaceuticals

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX-T) withdrew its sweetened takeover bid for ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ISTA-Q) on Monday, citing a lack of progress in talks.

ISTA said it would continue reviewing its options, and repeated that a number of parties have expressed interest in a strategic transaction.

"We were not interested in participating in a lengthy evaluation process and we are disappointed that the ISTA team was not willing to fully explore our proposal by January 31," Valeant Chief Executive Michael Pearson said in a statement.

California-based ISTA rejected Valeant's original $314 million US bid in December, calling it grossly inadequate. Earlier this month, Valeant raised its bid to $7.50 from $6.50 a share in cash, and indicated it could offer up to $8.50 a share, subject to due diligence.

The drugmaker's offer was set to expire on January 31.

ISTA's shares plummeted in 2011 as sales of one of its key eye treatments for inflammation and pain were hurt by the launch of a generic version by Mylan Inc.

"While we continue to make excellent progress and are pleased with the level of interest generated to date, it will take time to complete a thorough and thoughtful review," said ISTA Chief Executive Vicente Anido.

Valeant has been active on the acquisition trail. Last year it agreed to acquire Australia's iNova Pharmaceuticals from private equity firms Archer Capital and Ironbridge for $625 million AUS, and it recently completed the $88 million CDN acquisition of Canadian cold and flu medicine maker Afexa Life Sciences.

"We continue to be disciplined on our M&A strategy and we are actively working on other opportunities that we believe can create value for our shareholders," said Pearson.

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