Small drugmaker Medivation ( MDVN ) continued to battle Sanofi ‘s ( SNY ) hostile takeover bid Wednesday as the latter tried to replace its board, while big biotechs Celgene ( CELG ) and Gilead Sciences ( GILD ) were said to be thinking of joining the fray. Sanofi proposed eight candidates “who are willing to fully and fairly evaluate all of Medivation’s strategic options,” which it believes Medivation’s current board did not do when it unanimously rejected Sanofi’s unsolicited $9.3 billion bid on April 29. Medivation responded with a statement urging shareholders to reject the attempt, which it called “a tactic for Sanofi to facilitate its substantially inadequate and opportunistically timed proposal to acquire Medivation.” While Sanofi is the only suitor that’s gone public, anonymous sources have been telling the media that a variety of other companies are thinking of making a bid. On May 9, Medivation reportedly signed non-disclosures agreements with Pfizer ( PFE ) and Amgen ( AMGN ), implying that it is open to being bought by somebody other than Sanofi. On Wednesday Bloomberg said that Celgene and Gilead were talking to advisors about the idea, though they hadn’t actually approached the company. Both Celgene and Gilead have been urged by investors and analysts to make a sizable acquisition — especially Gilead, as its massive hepatitis C franchise is already eroding in the face of competition. Medivation’s current $1 billion in 12-month sales wouldn’t make that big of an impact on Gilead’s $33 billion top line, but much of the interest comes from Medivation’s future prospects: its prostate-cancer drug Xtandi is still ramping while the company studies its use in other diseases, and it also has a few earlier-stage drugs in the pipeline. Medivation stock, which has lately gone tight after a sharp run-up amid the buyout speculation, was down a fraction, near 62, in late morning trading on the stock market today . Sanofi was up 2%, near 41. Gilead was flat, near 86, and Celgene was up 1%, near 105.
Big pharma Pfizer ( PFE ) said Monday that it’s acquiring small biopharma Anacor Pharmaceuticals ( ANAC ) for $4.5 billion in cash, sending the latter’s stock up more than 50% in early Monday trading. Pfizer agreed to pay $99.26 a share for Anacor, a 55% premium over Friday’s closing price. The total transaction value is $5.2 billion, assuming the conversion of Anacor’s outstanding convertible notes, Pfizer said. Anacor’s sole commercial product is a toenail-fungus ointment called Kerydin, distributed by Novartis ( NVS ), but Pfizer’s press release on the merger played up Anacor’s eczema treatment crisaborole, which is under FDA review due for completion by Jan. 7. “We believe the acquisition of Anacor represents an attractive opportunity to address a significant unmet medical need for a large patient population with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis, which currently has few safe topical treatments available,” said Albert Bourla, head of Pfizer’s innovative businesses, in the release. Pfizer estimates crisaborole could reach peak annual sales of $2 billion. The buyout adds another asset to Pfizer’s innovate drug business, which it is widely expected to separate from its established-products business sometime in the next few years. Pfizer has said that it will make a decision on whether to split by year’s end. Pfizer already has a significant presence in inflammation and immunology, including blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis treatments Enbrel (sold in partnership with Amgen ( AMGN )) and Xeljanz. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ( REGN ) recently reported strong late-stage data for its injectable drug dupilumab in atopic dermatitis, so while the market is currently underserved, it may soon become more competitive. Anacor stock was up 54.7% in opens trades on the stock market today , near 99. Pfizer stock was down a fraction, near 33. Regeneron stock was up almost 3%.
Specialty-drug giant Allergan ( AGN ) got conflicting messages from Wall Street on Friday, as Goldman Sachs put the stock on its Conviction Buy list, while Mizuho lowered its price target, due to differing opinions about the company’s near-term strategy. Goldman analyst Jami Rubin wrote in a research note that after meeting with top executives, she believes the company is on track to deliver sustainable double-digit top-line growth and margin expansion. Rubin added that near-term catalysts include the closing of Allergan’s $40 billion sale of its generics business to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ( TEVA ), which both Teva and Allergan confirmed this week will happen next month, as well as the potential $10 billion share buyback Allergan unveiled during its Q1 earnings report on Tuesday. For Rubin, Allergan’s decision to scale back its acquisition strategy in favor of the stock buyback makes sense. “We believe Allergan management is listening to shareholders and placing capital deployment priorities on unlocking value by investing in the most attractive assets available — Allergan shares,” Rubin wrote. Mizuho analyst Irina Koffler, however, found the shift less than inspiring. “Aside from a large $5-billion-to-$10-billion share buyback, management is not pursuing any transformational changes to the business (as expected), and (we) are less excited by an execution story,” she wrote in a research note, lowering her price target to 232 from 250, while affirming a neutral rating. The market seemed to be siding with Goldman. Allergan stock was up nearly 3% in morning trading on the stock market today , near 222. But Allergan shares are still down nearly 30% this year, and they plunged 15% on April 5 after the company and Pfizer ( PFE ) called off their $160 billion marriage as the Treasury Department issued new rules to discourage mergers that would enable U.S. companies to move their headquarters to lower-tax countries, such as Allergan’s home base of Ireland.