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As Little Bear Ups the Ante, Caliper Plays Hard to Get

NEW YORK, Feb. 13 - Will Little Bear get snubbed a second time in two days? And so close to Valentines Day?


The investment company, which marks as takeover targets distressed companies, today upped its acquisition ante to $110 million, or $4.50 per share. That's up from the $100 million, or $4.15 per share, Little Bear offered Caliper yesterday.

Caliper's board unanimously rejected the $100 million bid--nearly a 40-percent premium over Caliper's closing price Tuesday--saying it was not in the best interests of its shareholders. Caliper had approximately
$154 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term marketable securities as of Dec. 31.


It was not known yet how Little Bear's latest advance was taken. Officials from neither firm returned telephone seeking comment at deadline.


The lab-on-a-chip company has felt the strain of the slumping biotech market. In December, the company lost an estimated $2 million when it agreed to accept a decreased payment schedule from spin-off Amphora Discovery for previously negotiated services and products.


Three months earlier Caliper laid off about 10 percent of its staff as it underwent a program to streamline operations. "As part of our strategic-planning process we review all positions, and as a result we did decide to cut approximately ... about 25 folks," Julie Wood, a Caliper spokeswoman, told GenomeWeb in late-September. "We asked ourselves, 'How can we deploy our resources most effectively?' And that caused us to make the decision to cut."


She said the company looked at all positions but that at a firm like Caliper "that is focused primarily on research and development, the bulk of the folks [who were laid off] came from that department."

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