FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The founder of Rhoen-Klinikum (RHKG.DE) said the failed takeover of the German hospital operator by Fresenius (FREG.DE) could soon get its second chance as the interloper who scuppered the deal was ready to negotiate.
Rhoen founder and Chairman Eugen Muench, who controls 12.45 percent of the group's shares, and had championed the sale, told Reuters that deal could soon be revived after Fresenius missed the 90 percent minimum acceptance hurdle among Rhoen shareholders on Friday.
"I believe that there will be solution fairly shortly," Muench said in a phone interview.
On Friday, rival hospital operator Asklepios, controlled by founder Bernard Broermann, had weighed in with the purchase of a 5.01 percent stake in Rhoen, keeping Fresenius from reaching the unusually high acceptance threshold.
The new entity would have dwarfed Asklepios and smaller unlisted rival Sana, a possible motive for Asklepios to throw a spanner in the works.
Rhoen's Muench said that Broermann had refused to talk during the offer period for legal reasons.
"But he (Broermann) said that talks would be possible afterwards," Muench told Reuters, adding he was confident that an agreement could be reached.
"Nothing has changed about my analysis that consolidation needs to happen now."
A spokesman for Asklepios was not immediately available for comment.
Fresenius Chief Executive Ulf Schneider and Muench had agreed to combine Fresenius's hospitals unit Helios and Rhoen to create a nationwide network of private hospitals.
A tie-up with Fresenius would be the quickest way to reach that goal, Muench said. Fresenius, as well, said on Friday it would try to breath new life into the deal.
German regulation would only allow a renewed takeover bid with the consent of Rhoen's management but Muench said this could happen soon.
The change of Rhoen's articles of incorporation, which require 90 percent shareholder agreement for strategic decisions such as capital changes, would also be an option.
Writing by Ludwig Burger