Is ailing Antisoma a prime new takeover target?

Just days ago shares of the UK's Antisoma were torpedoed by the late-stage failure of ASA404, a lead program for lung cancer-which has become a mine field for several developers already. Now the Wall Street Journal is suggesting that when investors hit the exits, triggering a 75 percent drop in Antisoma's share value on March 29, they helped reignite buzz about a possible acquisition.

It seems that the new, basement-level stock price gives Antisoma a market cap just above its cash reserves, making the company--which has a number of other programs in development--a ripe candidate for a takeover bid.

Or not. The Journal's Jacob Plieth notes that in Europe, at least, Big Pharma players like Novartis prefer to ink a licensing deal on a promising program rather than buy the company. For a relatively small upfront they can position themselves for success, or bail out if the data sours. If someone does buy Antisoma (ATSMY), he adds, it will be in spite of its collaborations, rather than because of them.

- here's the story from the Wall Street Journal