Onyx Pharmaceuticals

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Onyx Pharmaceuticals ($ONXX)
Market cap: $5.02 billion

The scoop: Onyx Pharmaceuticals fits the profile of biotech bait for just about any Big Pharma company, which is why a whole lineup has been named as possible acquirers. With the multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis (carfilzomib) approved and out on the market, with a strong start in sales as a third-line treatment, analysts project steadily rising sales for 5 years out. And after Bayer's Stivarga (regorafenib) was approved, with a 20% revenue split for Onyx, the numbers looked even better.

Late last year industry watchers were citing Pfizer ($PFE), Takeda and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) as likely interested in a bid. But every time you mention Onyx, it usually doesn't take very long for the conversation to turn to Bayer, its partner on Nexavar as well and the most likely candidate to make a buyout offer.

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers stirred up fresh rumors in the spring when he told analysts that "every company of our size is looking for acquisition opportunities." And then a source close to Bayer really fueled the speculation with the news that a multibillion-dollar acquisition was "imminent."  

Bayer, though, has had plenty of chances to buy Onyx and so far has managed to avoid the bargaining table. The pharma company is not known for bold or risky behavior, and Onyx wouldn't go cheap. Once Onyx is in play, there's no telling how hungry pharma companies could act. AstraZeneca has already proven that it's willing to pay a premium for marketed products. And if this game ever gets statred, the patent cliff could prove to be Onyx investors' best friend.

For more:
Slate of looming FDA decisions keeps M&A watchers on high alert
Analysts conjure up images of a dream buyout deal for Onyx