July 31, 2018 / 5:55 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 3-Akorn row overshadows Fresenius' generics guidance

* Q2 sales fall 2 pct, adj. net profit up 3 pct

* Nudges up Kabi earnings forecast

* Closing arguments in Akorn trial due on Aug. 23

* CEO says expect case to be resolved by early 2019 (Adds CEO comments from analyst call)

By Caroline Copley

BERLIN, July 31 (Reuters) - Fears that a legal dispute with U.S. drugmaker Akorn could extend into next year overshadowed improved guidance from Germany’s Fresenius SE for its Kabi generics business.

Akorn is suing Fresenius for walking away from a $4.7 billion takeover agreement in April and the uncertainty over the outcome of the trial is hanging over the stock.

Chief Executive Stephan Sturm told analysts Fresenius stood by its decision to pull out of the deal after uncovering data integrity breaches at Akorn which he says were systemic.

Akorn disagrees with the allegations and says Fresenius soured on the deal for financial reasons. Analysts say the outcome of the trial is too close to call.

Fresenius said closing arguments in the case will take place in a Delaware Court on Aug. 23 after which the judge will have 90 days to come to a verdict. An appeal by the losing party to the Delaware Supreme Court is also possible, it said.

“The Delaware Chancery Court is known for its efficiency,” Sturm said. “We expect this matter to be finally resolved by early next year,” he added.

Investors were rattled by the prospect of the dispute dragging on into next year and sent the shares down 3.7 percent to trade at 66.4 euros by 1325 GMT

Fresenius, which also operates hospitals and dialysis clinics, said adjusted net income rose 3 percent to 472 million euros ($554 million) in the second quarter, slightly ahead of the average forecast in a Reuters poll.

Adverse moves in the U.S. dollar and Chinese yuan pushed sales down 2 percent to 8.4 billion euros, in line with the consensus forecast.

Currency headwinds also held back sales growth at Fresenius SE’s separately listed kidney dialysis business, Fresenius Medical Care, where revenue fell 6 percent in the quarter to 4.21 billion euros.

Fresenius confirmed its overall group guidance and lifted its earnings forecast for its Kabi unit, which performed strongly in the quarter and was further boosted by a European decision not to ban hydroxyethyl-starch (HES), a drug which is administered intravenously following sudden blood loss.

It now forecasts earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) growth for Kabi in the range of -2 to +1 percent when adjusted for currencies. It had previously expected EBIT to fall by between 3 and 6 percent. ($1 = 0.8527 euros) (Reporting by Caroline Copley Editing by Susan Fenton and Keith Weir)

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