Private equity firm MBK Partners is standing firm on its S$0.725 ($0.53) per share offer price for Singapore-listed drug company AsiaPharm Group, according to ABN Amro Bank, which is advising MBK on the deal.

MBKÆs offer has been accepted by shareholders who hold a combined 28.53% of the total issued share capital of AsiaPharm, ABN Amro said in an announcement. AsiaPharm shareholders have until March 31 to decide whether to accept MBK's offer, which values the firm at S$357.4 million ($259 million) after MBK extended the offer deadline by a week on Monday.

ABN Amro says MBK does not intend to revise its offer price of S$0.725 per share for AsiaPharm, but reserves the right to revise the offer price ôif a competitive situation arises in relation to the offerö.

Templeton Asset Management, meanwhile, is likewise standing firm on its opposition to the impending deal.

ôTempleton is standing by its stance that the current offer price is undervalued, especially when you take into consideration the longer term prospects of the company,ö a company spokesperson says. ôWeÆre standing by our view that ChinaÆs pharmaceutical sector has bright prospects.ö

Templeton is a minority shareholder in AsiaPharm and is opposing the management buyout offer made in early-February by MBK for the Chinese pharmaceutical company. It opposes on the grounds that it believes the offer price is undervalued by at least 50% and fails to take into consideration potential earnings over a three- to five-year period.

Templeton manages the Templeton Strategic Emerging Markets Fund II, which holds a 4% share in AsiaPharm. Templeton has said that it is not convinced by the cash offer by Lu Ye Pharmaceutical Investment û controlled by private equity firm MBK Partners û to acquire all the issued and paid-up ordinary shares of AsiaPharm.

MBKÆs offer for AsiaPharm will eventually result in the companyÆs delisting from the Singapore stock exchange. MBK Partners was founded by five ex-Carlyle executives led by Michael Kim, who previously headed CarlyleÆs Asia practice.

Mark Mobius, Templeton president and principal portfolio manager, has vowed to vote against the buyout and is enlisting the support of fellow minority shareholders, including US-based Pope Asset Management and UK firm Martin Currie Investment Management to reject the deal.

AsiaPharm is a specialty pharmaceutical group in China which started operations in 1994. It is engaged in the production and sale of drugs and formulations for medicines for orthopaedics, neurology, gastroenterology and hepatology and also provides contract research services. AsiaPharm has a manufacturing facility in Yantai in the northeastern Shandong province in China and a distribution network of 35 sales offices covering 30 provinces.