Novartis not keen on buying Intercell, source says

Novartis might not be the knight in shining armor that some perhaps hoped for at struggling vaccine firm Intercell, which has been open to a buyout after a series of development setbacks during the past year. Yet now there's talk that Novartis has little need for a takeover of Intercell.

"Why would Novartis buy Intercell when it already has access to the pipeline? Novartis does not have any worries about its own vaccine pipeline and is not eager to pursue a transaction," an unnamed source, who has insight into Novartis' strategy, told Reuters.

This might be bad news to recently appointed Intercell CEO Thomas Lingelbach, who has been talking up the prospects of the Austrian biotech as a takeover candidate. The firm ($ICEL) could use help. Its stock price has taken a beating with such negative news as last month's announcement that its partner Merck ($MRK) has decided to end development of a key vaccine in Intercell's pipeline against hospital infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus bugs. And the firm has been under pressure to slash costs.

Novartis already controls a 15% stake in Intercell, Reuters reports, perhaps fueling speculation that the drug giant could purchase the rest of the vaccine developer that it doesn't arlready own. Novartis' vaccines and diagnostics chief Andrin Oswald wouldn't tip his hand much in a comment to the news service about the rumors, declining to address the speculation.

- read the Reuters report