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BAD VILBEL, Germany (Reuters) - The head of Stada (STAGn.DE), the German drugmaker at the center of a takeover battle, confirmed his car had been bugged last year but reassured investors that the company had not suffered as a result.
"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 annual financial results.
The disclosure comes at a sensitive time as Stada is the subject of a 4.7 billion euro ($5.1 billion) 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.
Germany's Manager Magazin reported last week that Wiedenfels found a listening device in his car and that he was also anonymously sent photographs taken of him in confidential business situations and outside of the office.
The chief executive said the issue occurred last summer and had been put to rest as far as he was concerned. He would not say whether police of state prosecutors had been informed at the time.
Wiedenfels replaced long-serving Stada boss Hartmut Retzlaff last June after Retzlaff stepped down on health grounds.
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 including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
Stada last week asked the competing suitors to improve their offers but Wiedenfels said the process remained on track.
"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.
When asked about rumors 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 chief executive said.
Stada shares traded 0.5 percent lower at 56.84 euros on Wednesday afternoon.
Editing by Victoria Bryan and Keith Weir