RALEIGH — Salix Pharmaceuticals, embroiled in a hostile takeover fight with Canadian drug rival Axcan, has decided to close its shareholders’ meeting on Thursday to the media.

“We just thought it’d be less — how do I put it – so we won’t have any confusion,” company spokesperson Michael Freeman told Dow Jones News Service on Monday.

The meeting starts at 9 AM at the company’s headquarters.

Its too bad Salix will move to control media access. The meeting should be a dandy as the Salix management and board of directors tries to convince shareholders not to endorse a rival slate of directors as offered up by Axcan and Axcan’s takeover bid of $10.50 a share. The sniping between the firms has been interesting to follow — and, at times, bitter.

The news that Salix would close the meeting came just before news that Axcan might increase its offer.

At a tradeshow in Canada, Axcan Chief Executive Officer Leon Gosselin told Reuters that he might up the ante in the showdown “if we see or are shown additional value.”

Axcan later issued a statement reaffirming the $10.50 bid.

“Without having been permitted to conduct due diligence and based upon the information known to us, we believe our $10.50 per share offer provides full value to Salix stockholders,” Gosselin said in a news release.

In that earlier interview with Reuters, Gosselin said any increase in the offer would hinge on Salix making more information available to Axcan. He was critical of the strategy employed by Salix management and board to resist Axcan from the start when it first offered $8.75 a share in April.

“We would have thought they would have tried to negotiate higher rather than retrench,” he told Reuters.

Both companies manufacture gastrointestinal drugs and had talked about working together in the past.

Salix (Nasdaq: SLXP) stock closed at $11.98 on Monday.

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.