Fresh signs of a biotech buyout blast in 2011

Right now, all signs point to a burst of biotech buyouts in 2011. The latest portent comes from Bloomberg, which highlights the recent deals for Plexxikon and ProStrakan as indications that Japan's pharma companies are going to use their cache of cash to snap up more drug developers.

Bloomberg's numbers indicate that there was a 30 percent jump in the number of overseas deals completed by Japan's pharma companies in the past year, with a 72 percent spike in premiums. The business news service totted up 34 deals in the last 12 months. Not only do the Japanese pharma companies have money to spend, a stronger yen has added significantly to their fighting weight.

The competition is tough," Reed Maurer, an industry advisor and president of International Alliance, tells Bloomberg. "Everybody is looking for pipeline."

What makes this trend particularly hot right now is that several players have been suiting up for the big M&A game. Midcap biotechs have been sizing up acquisitions right alongside the global Big Pharma companies. And with the IPO window closed to all but the chosen few--or the really desperate--buyouts offer the only other lucrative exit strategy for venture backers. That message was also driven home by a number of consultants at the JP Morgan event in January. 

- here's the story from Bloomberg