Actelion CEO dismisses talk of Basilea buyout bid

Actelion (VTX:ATLN) CEO Jean-Paul Clozel has dismissed the possibility of making a bid to buy Basilea Pharmaceutica (SWX:BSLN). The comment quashed speculation that Actelion and Basilea could find solutions to their respective challenges by merging.

Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel

Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion was tentatively linked to a move to buy its compatriot Basilea by some observers on the strength of insights into the business development needs of both firms. Actelion signaled its willingness to entertain sizable acquisitions last year when it attempted to buy ZS Pharma, only for AstraZeneca ($AZN) to gazump it with an offer of $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion). And Basilea is in the process of looking for a partner for a Phase III trial and adapting to life without the $190 million haul it expected to generate in a Nasdaq IPO.

However, while the situation made a merger appear possible to some people, Clozel is adamant he has no interest in acquiring Basilea. "Since we're interested in active substances and not financial opportunities, it wouldn't make sense for us to buy Basilea," Clozel said in an interview with Finanz und Wirtschaft that was translated by Reuters. Basilea is focused bringing the antibiotic ceftobiprole through a U.S.-focused Phase III trial, while moving a clutch of earlier-stage assets along the pipeline. The most advanced of the earlier-stage programs is a Phase II tumor checkpoint controller.

Actelion has decided its cash is better invested elsewhere. Having seen AstraZeneca bully him out of the ZS Pharma deal, Clozel has previously expressed doubts about whether it will be possible--or prudent--for Actelion to compete in the M&A arena. If the right deal comes along, Actelion is open to buying in assets, but the expectation now is that it will invest in its own pipeline to generate its next-generation of products. The amount Actelion has to invest is partly dependent on the success of its pulmonary arterial hypertension drug Uptravi, which launched in the U.S. this month. 

- read Reuters' report
- and Finanz und Wirtschaft's piece (German)

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