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Executive Summary

Six pharma deals announced thus far in 2016 carried up-front values of $1 billion or more, down considerably from the high-volume, high-value M&A industry experienced the prior two years. Pharma manufacturers appear to be recalibrating – digesting previous acquisitions, adjusting to new biotech valuations and taking stock of the political and macro-economic climate – but fundamentals suggest pharma dealmaking will pick up. Pfizer’s $14 billion offer for Medivation might represent a turning point.

  • High-value biopharma M&A is down in the first eight months of 2016, compared with the activity experienced in 2014 and 2015. Just six deals announced from January through August had up-front values of $1 billion or more, compared with 17 such deals in the first eight months of 2015.
  • Changes in the specialty pharma environment, notably Valeant’s absence from the negotiating table while it transitions through a pricing and accounting scandal, have impacted the deal landscape.
  • As big pharma focuses its pipeline and portfolio on high-priority therapeutic areas, companies are monetizing low-priority assets, presenting new opportunities for deals.
  • Pfizer’s August 22 announcement that it won the auction to acquire Medivation for $14 billion represents the most expensive deal signed so far in 2016 and shows that pharma still has an appetite for big deals when the target is right.

High-value, high-volume pharma M&A was predicted by many in 2016, but the big deals haven’t materialized – yet. While the volume of deals signed so far this year has continued to be robust, the total value has been below what was seen in the two prior years, leaving many to wonder when momentum will pick up, or if it will at all.

The announcement August 22 that Pfizer Inc. beat out several rivals in the auction to buyMedivation Inc. with an $81.50 per share offer, about $14 billion, could mark a turning point for M&A in 2016. Other potential takeout targets like Incyte Corp. and BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.got a boost on the news, with investors encouraged that M&A might heat up in the second half of the year.

With Pfizer/Medivation, six pharma deals have been announced in the first eight months of the year with up-front values of $1 billion or more, compared with17 in the first eight months of 2015 and 20 such deals in the full year 2014, according to Informa’s Strategic Transactions.

The recent tapering off of the mega dealmaking that industry experienced in 2014 and 2015 raises questions about whether those years were outliers for deal activity or if M&A is set to resume at a similar pace once industry has a chance to recalibrate and digest some of those previous big buy-outs.

The fundamentals driving pharma M&A haven’t changed: the high-risk nature of drug development, the continuous cycle around filling the pipeline, payer consolidation and industry’s cash stockpiles.

That’s why high-value dealmaking may just be on hiatus. The competitive case of Medivation shows big pharma still has plenty of appetite for M&A when the target is right. In terms of deal volume, activity has been robust in 2016, driven by smaller acquisitions, licensing deals and alliances. Deals with non-traditional partners – companies that provide data management tools or healthcare services – are also on the rise. (See sidebar, "The Rise Of The Alt-Deal.")

It’s difficult, too, to compare the current environment with the banner dealmaking years of 2015 and 2014. The highest-value deal signed in 2015 (excluding Pfizer’s$160 billion failed merger withAllergan PLC) was a whopper: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s acquisition of Allergan’s generic drug business for $40.5 billion. AbbVie Inc.’s acquisition of Pharmacyclics Inc. was the second biggest deal announced with a deal value of $21 billion. (Also see "In Buzz Of 2015 Pharma Dealmaking, Immuno-Oncology Is Queen Bee" - In Vivo, 16 Sep, 2015.).

The year 2014 had even more bombshell deal news, with Actavis agreeing to buy Forest Laboratories Inc. for $23.9 billion, then turning around and buyingAllergan for $65.4 billion, whileGlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG agreed to an inventive asset swap, trading GSK’s marketed cancer drugs for Novartis’ vaccines with billions changing hands. The $200 billion in biopharma M&A in 2014 was more than twice the average annual deal volume in the prior decade. (Also see "A Banner Year For Pharma: M&A Tops 2009 Merger Mania" - In Vivo, 18 Sep, 2014.).

“[Life science companies] have experienced a drop in the number of deals that have been announced this year relative to recent periods,” comments PwC’s Dimitri Drone, global pharmaceutical and life sciences leader, deals practice. “But you have to keep in mind we have been at high levels of activity over the last couple of years. The fact that it has dropped is not a concern to me in terms of M&A going away,” he adds. “In my mind, it may never go away for this sector because it is such a part of how they operate.”

Consulting firm EY predicted at the beginning of the year that biopharma M&A would surpass $200 billion in value in 2016 in its "Firepower Index and Growth Gap Report," a figure it called the “new normal” for pharma deals. (Also see "Meet The New $200bn Normal In M&A, EY Says" - Pink Sheet, 11 Jan, 2016.). In a recent interview, global life sciences transaction advisory services leader Jeffrey Greene said he believes the biopharma industry could still hit that target, powered by a brisk pace of deal activity and potentially more deals to come in the back end of the year. “From a dollar volume perspective, it’s unlikely we will be as high as last year in terms of announced deals,” he concedes. “But in terms of number of deals, I think we are going to be robust this year, and I think we have a good shot at getting to that $200 billion new normal.”

The bidding war that ensued for cancer company Medivation shows just how much drug companies are willing to spend to get their hands on an important asset in a high-priority therapy area such as oncology. Sanofi launched a hostile bid for the Xtandi (enzalutamide) developer in May, and eventually raised its offer in July to around $10 billion, but Medivation responded by signing confidentiality agreements with a number of interested parties. (Also see "Medivation Rejects Sanofi's Latest Bid, But Enters Confidential Negotiations" - Scrip, 6 Jul, 2016.).

Companies ranging from Novartis and Pfizer to Merck & Co. Inc.AstraZeneca PLC and big biotech were supposedly at the negotiating table, but it was Pfizer that walked away the winner with a $14 billion offer, 21% higher than the company’s already inflated stock price. Some analysts questioned, though, if winning in this instance was something to be proud of, when the title means paying the most.

Before buy-out speculation arose, just six months earlier, Medivation was trading at $33. Sanofi’s most recent bid publicly put on the table in July was $58 per share plus a $3 contingent value right linked to the pipeline. (Also see "Medivation Rejects Sanofi's Latest Bid, But Enters Confidential Negotiations" - Scrip, 6 Jul, 2016.). Some analysts had been forecasting a final takeout bid of between $68 and $75 per share on the high end. Now investors will be wondering if Pfizer overpaid for Medivation and whether the prostate blockbuster Xtandi and two pipeline assets in development will turn out to be worth the price.

Specialty Pharma Cooling Its Heels

Outside of the Pfizer/Medivation deal, acquisitions valued at $1 billion up front and higher have been few and far between, and there are some possible explanations for the slower pace of high-value M&A.

There have been notable changes in the industry in the last year, impacting the market for deals. Specialty drug developers like Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and Allergan, which had been driving a lot of the deal activity in the last two years, are in the midst of a reset. Valeant, which has been one of the busiest dealmakers in the sector, has put M&A on hold while the company tries to recover from a spectacular blowup that saw its market value plummet by more than 90% and the architect of its buy-and-cut business model, CEO J. Michael Pearson, out the door amid accounting and drug pricing scandals. (Also see "Valeant’s Pearson Is Out, As Hunt Begins For A CEO To Right The Wrongs" - Pink Sheet, 21 Mar, 2016.).

Allergan, meanwhile, is busy integrating its own big acquisitions, and it was ready to put a freeze on its biopharma spending account for a union with Pfizer. The deal collapsed in April when the US Treasury announced new rules eliminating some of the tax advantages Pfizer would have gotten from the merger. (Also see "It's The End Of Pfizergan, So Pfizer Will Have To Grow It Alone" - Scrip, 7 Apr, 2016.).

The government’s 11th hour move to block the Pfizer/Allergan merger and to put a kibosh on inversion deals – whereby a company redomiciles outside the US to a new tax-friendlier country via acquisition – is also clearly impacting dealmaking this year. Pfizer/Allergan would have been the biggest merger in pharmaceutical history had it gone through. If that deal had remained intact, reaching $200 billion in biopharma deal value in 2016 would have been a small hurdle for industry to hop over rather than a pole vault.

Another issue is the macro-economic environment and political uncertainty around the world, with a contentious presidential race underway in the US and the UK’s Brexit vote adding to the uncertainty in Europe. The impact of Brexit will require time to digest. EY’s global life sciences industry leader Pamela Spence says that although there remains a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and the European political climate, the decision by Britain’s voters to leave the European Union probably won’t have a huge impact on pharma dealmaking. “Fundamentally the science hasn’t changed overnight, the diseases and unmet medical needs haven’t changed overnight,” she says. “I see it as a short-term hesitation rather than a fundamental reshaping.”

Money To Burn

As for the Pfizer/Allergan fallout, the expectation is that both firms will be active dealmakers moving forward as they look to drive growth as independent companies. Pfizer has made its move with the announcement of the Medivation buy-out, but rivals that dropped out, and most especially Sanofi, which initiated the proceedings in the first place, will be looking elsewhere for opportunities.

Pfizer was the buyer in another of the big deals announced so far in 2016: the $5.2 billion acquisition of Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc., the owner of the non-steroidal topical phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitor crisaborole, pending at FDA for approval for atopic dermatitis. (Also see "Pfizer Buys Anacor With Blockbuster Ambitions For Crisaborole" - Scrip, 16 May, 2016.). On the heels of Medivation, Pfizer also announced August 24 that it will buy AstraZeneca’s late-stage and commercial small-molecule antibiotics portfolio outside the US in exchange for $550 million upfront plus a $175 million delayed payment in 2019; Pfizer intends to add the products to its Essential Health portfolio, made up of mature drugs. (Also see "AstraZeneca Sells Small-Molecule Antibiotics To Pfizer But Still Investing In R&D" - Scrip, 24 Aug, 2016.).

Nonetheless, Anacor and even Medivation are more bolt-on deals by Pfizer’s standards. “For a company of Pfizer’s size, a Medivation deal is barely a needle-mover,” Bernstein Research analyst Tim Anderson said in a research note the day the deal was announced.

The big pharma has money to burn now that it isn’t buying Allergan, and Allergan has the proceeds from the $40.5 billion sale of its generics business to Teva, which closed in August; CEO Brent Saunders has vowed the company will direct some of that cash toward dealmaking. (Also see "Teva Embarks On New Phase With FTC Clearance Of Allergan Generics" - Scrip, 27 Jul, 2016.). In a last minute decision, Allergan also added its Anda generic drug distribution business to the arrangement, agreeing to sell it to Teva for $500 million. (Also see "Teva Advancing Two Advair Generics With Late 2017 Target" - Scrip, 4 Aug, 2016.).

Industry watchers will keep looking for clues about what Allergan and Pfizer will do next. Pfizer chairman and CEO Ian Read says Pfizer will likely have a more “balanced” approach to M&A now that it is buying Medivation. “We’ll still continue to look at business development, if it creates value for shareholders, but I believe we’ll be taking a more balanced view going forward,” he says.

Investors are focused on a big decision Pfizer has promised to make by the end of the year: whether or not to split up the company into an innovative and established products business. A decision on that question would surely inform Pfizer’s M&A strategy and impact the amount of flexibility Pfizer has to do big deals. Read said as much during the company’s second-quarter sales and earnings call August 2: “You don’t have the same opportunities of deployment of cash if you’re two companies as you do if you’re one. You have less choice as to which areas you put it.”

Pfizer has pursued two mega-mergers recently, first AstraZeneca in 2014 and then Allergan in 2015, though neither deal came to pass. In both cases, Pfizer was motivated primarily by the tax benefits it could achieve by taking over the target’s tax domicile. After the US Treasury’s latest steps to curb inversion deals, Read says the company would not pursue another inversion deal under the current environment.

Meanwhile, Allergan's Saunders said during the firm’s second-quarter sales and earnings call August 8 that the company has earmarked more than $20 billion to invest in acquisitions. But he explained that Allergan is shopping for “stepping-stone assets,” which seems to debunk rumors the company might consider a bigger deal, such as making a play for Biogen Inc., which has been rumored.“We are not looking at and we are not focused on any large transformational M&A,” he insisted. “We are focused on stepping-stones.”

Stepping-Stones

 
For the most part, that’s what you would call the types of deals that have been signed in the first eight months of 2016. In addition to Pfizer’s two acquisition announcements, other deals with up-fronts of $1 billion or more were  Galenica Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s acquisition of Relypsa Inc. and Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC’s acquisition of Celator Pharmaceuticals Inc., both for $1.5 billion up front. (See Exhibit 1.)

 

AbbVie’s acquisition of the cancer company Stemcentrx Inc. for $5.8 billion was one of the more expensive acquisitions so far this year and drew criticism from some investors because of the high price tag, one of the highest valuations for a venture-backed biotech takeout ever. Stemcentrx develops Rova-T (rovalpitizumab tesirine), an antibody drug conjugate that targets the stem-cell protein DLL3.

Mylan NV’s acquisition of Meda AB for $9.9 billion was one of the more transformational deals announced in 2016. The generic drug company announced it would buy the Swedish consumer health care firm in February after failing to buy over-the-counter drug specialist Perrigo Co. PLClast year. (Also see "Mylan Turns To Meda In Sweden For Open Door Into Consumer Market" - Pink Sheet, 15 Feb, 2016.).

Exhibit 1

2016's Top Deals By Up-Front Value (January-August)

Date Deal Up-Front Value
Aug. Pfizer buys Medivation [See Deal] $14bn
Feb. Mylan buys Meda [See Deal] $9.9bn
April AbbVie buys cancer firm Stemcentrx [See Deal] $5.8bn
May Pfizer buys Anacor [See Deal] $5.2bn
May Jazz buys cancer drug developer Celator Pharmaceuticals [See Deal] $1.5bn
July Galenica buys Relypsa [See Deal] $1.5bn
May Mylan acquires Renaissance Acquisition’s non-sterile, topical specialty and generic dermatology business [See Deal] $950m
 July Nichi-Iko buys generics firm Sagent [See Deal] $736m
June Mayne Pharma buys generic drugs from Teva [See Deal] $652m
March Vectura to buy Skyepharma [See Deal] $621m
June Impax acquires portfolio of generics from Teva [See Deal] $586m
March Humanwell Healthcare and PuraCap Pharmaceutical agree to acquire Epic Pharma [See Deal] $550m
Aug. Pfizer agrees to buy AstraZeneca’s commercial and late-stage small-molecule antibiotics outside the US [See Deal] $550m plus a delayed $175m payment in 2019
June Aspen buys ex-US rights to seven of AstraZeneca’s marketed anesthetic products  [See Deal]  $520m
June Merck & Co. will acquire private neurogenic disease-focused biotech Afferent [See Deal] $500m
August Teva will buy Allergan’s generic drug distribution business Anda [See Deal] $500m
May Arbor to acquire drug delivery biotech XenoPort for $467m [See Deal] $467m
April Gilead buys Nimbus Apollo, gaining a program for NASH [See Deal] $400m
Jan. Acorda acquires Finnish biotech Biotie Therapies [See Deal] $363m
June  Dr. Reddy’s buys eight ANDAs from Teva [See Deal] $350m
March  Sun buys 14 pharma brands sold in Japan from Novartis [See Deal] $293m
March  Bristol buys autoimmune disease start-up Padlock Therapeutics [See Deal] $225m
Aug. Pfizer buys remaining 78% stake in gene therapy company Bamboo [See Deal]
$150m
Jan. Juno buys next-generation cell sequencing firm Abvitro [See Deal] $132m
Jan. Roche acquires private epigenetics-focused Tensha Therapeutics [See Deal] $115m

Impax acquires portfolio of generics from Teva

Impax acquires portfolio of generics from Teva

Impax acquires portfolio of generics from Teva

Sun buys 14 pharma brands sold in Japan from Novartis

Sun buys 14 pharma brands sold in Japan from Novartis

Pfizer buys remaining 78% stake in gene therapy company Bamboo

Pfizer buys remaining 78% stake in gene therapy company Bamboo

Three of six acquisitions so far with up-fronts of over $1 billion involved cancer companies and more than half of the 21 partnerships or alliances signed in the first eight months of the year with an up-front value of $40 million or more involved oncology assets.

More Focus Means Buying And Selling

One theme within biopharma that is influencing M&A is focus. Drug manufacturers have shifted their approach to R&D in the last three to five years, with the aim of focusing their portfolios and pipelines in areas where they can compete to win.

The strategy means companies are shopping for new assets to bring in, but it also means there are a lot of non-core assets that can be monetized. The strategy is being deployed by big pharmas almost unilaterally, including players like Pfizer, Novartis, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and others.

The strategy is driving M&A as companies shed some assets and buy others. A poster child for the way R&D focus is impacting M&A was the 2014 asset swap between Novartis and GSK, in which Novartis acquired GSK’s marketed cancer drugs for $14.5 billion in exchange for Novartis’ vaccines and the two companies also established a consumer health care joint venture. [See Deal]“You see deals being done by big pharma that play into the strategic focus theme, where they are looking to acquire in their areas of strength,” says EY’s Greene.

Teva chief scientific officer Michael Hayden, PhD, talked about focus and M&A during the company’s second-quarter sales and earnings call August 4. Teva has been working to streamline its pipeline in four areas on the specialty side of its business over the last two years: neurodegenerative disease, movement disorders, pain and respiratory. “As we look at more focus and with some of our colleagues and other pharma companies…refocusing their pipelines, and the recognition of Teva becoming a significant player in migraine pain, movement disorders, neurodegeneration and respiratory, we’re seeing a significant number of opportunities, very exciting, come our way,” Hayden said.

Teva said it is busy looking at numerous products and could be ready to announce additional deals in 2016 or 2017, despite digesting the major acquisition of Allergan’s generic drug business.

Medivation is a prime example. Oncology, without question, is the most competitive area of business development in pharmaceuticals today, and the therapy area is considered a priority among big pharmas almost without exception. Potential targets with a marketed cancer drug in their portfolio – let alone a blockbuster – in addition to a late-stage pipeline candidate are hard to come by.

Oncology drove dealmaking in 2015 too, and particularly immuno-oncology. But cancer deals often happen earlier in the drug development lifecycle, either around a technology platform or early-stage drug candidate. Oncology deals are therefore frequently licensing or partnering deals rather than outright mega-buster acquisitions. Oncology has continued to fuel dealmaking thus far in 2016. Three of six acquisitions so far with up-fronts of over $1 billion involved cancer companies and more than half of the 21 partnerships or alliances signed in the first eight months of the year with an up-front value of $40 million or more involved oncology assets, according toStrategic Transactions. (See Exhibit 2.)

Exhibit 2

A Robust Licensing And Partnering Agenda (January-August)

Date Deal Up-Front Value

March

Boehringer Ingelheim partners with AbbVie on two clinical-stage antibody therapies for autoimmune disease [See Deal]

$595m

July

AstraZeneca granted Aspen ex-US rights to seven marketed anesthetic products [See Deal]

$520m

May

Chiesi Farmaceutici buys three non-core CV assets from The Medicines Co. [See Deal]

$260m

July Celgene partners with Jounce on lead IO candidate JTX2011 and four others [See Deal]

$225m

June

Merck partners with Moderna to develop mRNA-based personalized cancer vaccines [See Deal]

$200m

Feb.

Exelixis licenses Ipsen rights outside US, Canada and Japan to cancer drug cabozantinib [See Deal]

$200m

May

Celgene signs new alliance with Agios, focused on metabolic immuno-oncology [See Deal]

$200m

Jan.

Symphogen grants Baxalta options to license global rights to six immuno-oncology projects [See Deal}

$200m

July

Leo Pharma licenses rights to AstraZeneca’s tralokinumab and brodalumab for dermatology [See Deal]

$175m

Jan.

Xencor and Novartis team up on bispecific antibodies as cancer immunotherapies, using Xencor’s XmAb platform [See Deal]

$150m

Jan

Nestle licenses rights outside the US and Canada to four of Seres’ drug candidates for Clostridium difficile infection and inflammatory bowel disease [See Deal]

$120m

July Leo Pharma licenses rights to AstraZeneca’s tralokinumab and brodalumab for dermatology [See Deal]

$115m

Feb Baxalta partners with Precision BioSciences to use ARCUS platform to develop CART therapies [See Deal]

$105m

April Ironwood acquires US rights to AstraZeneca’s lesinurad-containing products including Zurampic [See Deal]

$100m

May MacroGenics licenses J&J rights to preclinical bispecific candidate MGD015 for cancer [See Deal]

$75m

April Regeneron partners with Intellia to develop CRISPR-based drug candidates [See Deal]

$75m

Aug. Pharming reacquires North American rights to HAE drug Ruconest from Valeant [See Deal]

$60m

March Pfizer gains an option agreement with Wave Life Sciences around the development of nucleic acid therapies in metabolic disease [See Deal]

$50m

March Sanofi partners with DiCE Molecules to develop oral small molecules against up to 12 targets [See Deal]

$50m

March Dr. Reddy’s licensed US rights to XenoPort’s XP23829 in development for psoriasis [See Deal]

$45m

March Roche buys option to license rights to five of Blueprint Medicine’s immunokinase inhibitors in immuno-oncology [See Deal]

$40m

May Pfizer gains an option agreement with Wave Life Sciences around the development of nucleic acid therapies in metabolic disease [See Deal]

$40m

April ArGEN-X NV partners preclinical GARP inhibitor ARGX115 with AbbVie [See Deal]

$40m

August  Amgen partners with Advaxis to develop preclinical cancer immunotherapy [See Deal] $40m
April GSK signs second deal with Zymeworks to develop and commercialize bispecific antibodies [See Deal] $36m
 April

 Abbvie partners with CytomX to develop pHelsinn Group licenses rights to MEI Pharma’s AML candidate pracinostatrobody drug conjugates against DC71
[See Deal]

 

$30m

 May  Biogen partners with UPenn to develop gene therapies for ophthalmic, musculoskeletal and neurological diseases [See Deal]  

$20m

 Aug.  Helsinn Group licenses rights to MEI Pharma’s AML candidate pracinostat [See Deal]  

$20m

As pharmas continue to focus their portfolios that could mean more separations of business segments by diversified companies, a strategy that has been in play for several years, going back to Pfizer’s spin-out of its animal health business into new company Zoetis in 2013. Since then, others have also sold off their non-priority businesses. This year, Sanofi reached a deal with Boehringer Ingelheim GMBH in July to exchange its animal health business Merial for Boehringer’s consumer health care business, with Boehringer agreeing to pay Sanofi €4.7 billion. (Also see "Sanofi Adds Consumer Brands, Grows Footprint With Boehringer Ingelheim Deal" - Pink Sheet, 28 Jun, 2016.).

The situation Pfizer is contemplating to break out its mature drugs business into a separate company would be a groundbreaking one if Pfizer decides to do it. Other pharmas like GSK also have dedicated established products businesses that could be candidates for a similar spin-out or separation.

“Asset swaps, while infrequent in number, are extremely powerful because you create a whole lot of deal currency in doing them.” – Dimitri Drone, PwC

PwC’s Drone predicts more asset swaps will be coming. “I personally think that asset swaps, while infrequent in number, are extremely powerful because you create a whole lot of deal currency in doing them,” he says. The challenge is finding the right partner to negotiate a deal with.

“You can’t just put two companies together, and you need negotiation,” Drone says. “There are a whole host of things that make it challenging for a deal to get signed.” But, he says there are still plenty of assets that could be traded across pharmas.

What’s Next For Biotech?

Biosimilars could be an area ripe for dealmaking, Drone predicts, as well as biotechs worth a couple of billion to $20 billion to $30 billion, a valuation he says is in a “sweet spot” for acquisitions. And for some of the bigger biotechs, it might be time for them to become acquirers now that they have matured and launched their own commercial drugs, some quite successfully.

“They need to be thinking about the same things some of the larger more mature life sciences companies have been thinking about for years, which is, 'I have to fill the pipeline,'” Drone says. “I do think M&A is right around the corner for some of them.”

Companies such as Celgene, Gilead, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Biogen could have increasing influence at the negotiating table. Biotechs also risk becoming takeout targets if their valuations dip too low in the current biotech sector reset. Many biotech stocks have fallen in the first part of 2016, with the biotech BTK Index down 27% at the end of the first quarter versus the 2016 opening. It has rebounded considerably since, down 9% as of August 23 versus the January 4 opening.

Biogen, in particular, is a company that is considered an acquisition candidate, as its stock price has fallen amid moderating sales of its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) and few notable late-stage assets to drive near-term growth.

The biotech’s CEO George Scangos announced in July plans to retire after a successor is named, increasing speculation of a potential buy-out. (Also see "Scangos Leaves Biogen Transformed And Transitioning" - Scrip, 21 Jul, 2016.).

Many investors have been waiting for falling biotech valuations to fuel M&A this year, but those deals haven’t happened. Potential acquirers say that despite the drop in market value, the value in the minds of investors and management hasn’t changed.

AstraZeneca’s Grady insists that good science will always command premium interest. “I think it’s much more scientific dependent or commercial opportunity determined rather than what might be happening on a particular stock exchange or capital market,” he says.

The second half of the year appears to be turning a corner with Pfizer’s high-value acquisition of Medivation. Now investors will just have to wait and see if the momentum continues.

 


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