Ciba Vision had already postponed to one week ago the expiration date for its $785 million tender offer for Wesley Jessen, which it had first announced last May 30, leading Bausch & Lomb to withdraw its own cheaper bid. Ciba Vision has postponed the deadline again to Aug. 23, citing once more a request for additional information by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The issue at stake could not be determined, but it may be related to Ciba Vision's 25 percent interest in a tinted lens operation that it may have to divest in order to obtain regulatory approval.

As of last Aug. 7, Wesley Jessen shareholders had tendered only 48 percent of their own shares. Officials of Ciba Vision, whose offer is contingent on at least 51 percent of the shares being tendered, believe that many shareholders are waiting for the conclusion of the regulatory process before responding to Ciba Vision's offer.

Meanwhile, Wesley Jessen reports an 8.8 percent sales increase to $87 million for the second quarter ended July 1, adding that the growth would have been of 9.9 percent at constant exchange rates. Sales of conventional contact lenses were down 14.7 percent, while those of disposable lenses increased by 31.1 percent to 62 percent of the total turnover, against an estimated 12 percent increase in the market. Wesley Jessen's sales of opaque disposable lenses rose by 40 percent. Sales of its tinted lenses will be boosted by their introduction on the Japanese market in the third quarter, following the permission of the country's Health Ministry.

Excluding merger-related costs, Wesley Jessen had net income of $10.8 million in the quarter, as compared to $9.2 million in the year-ago period. Adding merger-related charges, Wesley Jessen had a net loss of $20.7 million in the latest quarter.

For its part, Ciba Vision's parent company in Switzerland, Novartis, has indicated plans to take out of Ciba Vision's jurisdiction in the USA such operations as cancer therapy, transplants and ophthalmic medicine. Ciba Vision will then concentrate on contact lenses, eye surgery instruments and eye care products.