Monday 28 April 2014

Another day, another multibillion dollar pharma deal....

Wow - today's news about Pfizer formally launching its $100 billion takeover bid for AstraZeneca has sent the pharmacuetical sector rumour mill into overdrive.

One company that is getting a lot of attention in European markets is US-based InterMune, a biotechnology business focused on the research and development of therapies in pulmonology and fibrotic diseases.

Parky over at the The Times picked up on some InterMune speculation in his market report last Friday after Reuters reported in March several mystery parties had been running their "slide rules" over the business. Here is a link to the original Reuters article:

I understand the InterMune gossip is broadly correct. My sources tell me a few European pharmaceutical companies have been taking a look at InterMune, including Switzerland-based Actelion.

Actelion is said to have expressed an interest in buying InterMune a few weeks ago and lined up between $3 billion and $4 billion in financing from several banks, including the likes of JP Morgan, according to my sources. Actelion declined to comment on the speculation.

Other pharmaceutical companies studying InterMune, which is normally advised by Goldman Sachs, are said to include France's Sanofi, according to sources. Sanofi declined to comment on the speculation.

Novartis and Roche, two Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giants, have also been mentioned in some quarters as a potential bidders for InterMune but I don't have any sources that can corroborate whether these companies have a firm interest.

Don't, though, get too excited. Although InterMune may be sold for a significant premium, Betaville readers should be aware a deal is by no means a certainty and still several weeks, if not months, away, say my sources familiar with the matter.    

Elsewhere in the sector, Reuters was reporting this evening that Allergan is set to make a fresh multi-billion pound approach for London-listed Shire in the next few days after holding talks earlier this year.

Allergan is the US-based botox producer that is fending off a $47 billion hostile approach from Valeant Pharmaceuticals and US activist investor Bill Ackman.

Here is a link to the Reuters article:

An InterMune spokesperson declined to comment.

UPDATE: Some excellent sources have been in contact this morning to provide an update to the InterMune situation. I don't want observers to get too excited by this potential deal as I understand that it is extremely "early days".

Indeed, I have been told that Actelion and Sanofi have not yet submitted formal indicative offers for InterMune and may decide not to pursue a transaction.  

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