2009 certainly hasn't been short on big news. After early predictions that this year would bring some major deals between Big Pharma and Big Biotech companies, Pfizer promptly delivered a $68 billion buyout of Wyeth--one of the largest deals in recent history. And Roche continues to pursue that elusive purchase of Genentech, which would move one of the industry's big five independent biotechs into the Swiss company's fold.
This prompted us to wonder who else is on Big Pharma's shopping list. So last week FierceBiotech ran an informal poll to see what you, the readers, had to say about the topic. Here are the results:
Bristol-Myers Squibb was far and away the winner here, undoubtedly due to the fact that rumors have been circulating for years (literally) that the world's twelfth-largest drug company would put itself on the auction block. And analysts continue to believe that BMS is positioning itself for sale. Pfizer was originally said to be interested, but its mega-deal with Wyeth clearly puts that speculation to rest. Now Sanofi-Aventis has been named as an interested party.
Biogen Idec came in a distant second, just slightly ahead of Amgen on the list of possible acquisitions. Carl Icahn--famous for gaining control of companies and promptly selling them off--is once again showing interest in Biogen despite last year's unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer. Icahn may be gambling that lower stock prices will make Biogen a tasty, more affordable morsel for a larger company to gobble up. Amgen, meanwhile, would be a costly acquisition for even the most well-financed pharma, but its pipeline and status in the industry may be too tempting to resist.
As the last independent vaccine maker, Crucell would be an attractive acquisition for a company looking to boost its standing in the resurgent vaccine market. In early January, there was talk that Wyeth would fork over $1.35 billion for Crucell, but those plans were scuttled after the Wy-Pfi deal. However, Sanofi, Merck, Novartis, GSK and even Pfizer could be interested in acquiring the relatively affordable vaccine company. Finally, after refuting rumors of a possible buyout in 2007, there's little indication that rare-disease specialist Genzyme will be a takeover target.
Our guess? The vaccine market being as hot as it is, a deal for Crucell is a sure thing. And 2009 could be the year that all those BMS buyout rumors finally come to pass.
Who do you think is next? Is there a company we didn't mention in the poll that may be the target of a major buyout? Let us know. - Maureen