Amgen heads back to the M&A table with plans to stay 'disciplined'

Amgen ($AMGN) is returning to the world of transformational dealmaking, executives said, looking to capitalize on a market-wide dip in valuations without overspending on hype.

David Meline, Amgen chief financial officer

Speaking to Bloomberg's Caroline Chen, Amgen Chief Financial Officer David Meline said the company is ready to scout for big-ticket deals again, moving on from the integration of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, acquired for $10 billion in 2013, and a broad restructuring effort that led to about 4,000 layoffs.

Amgen is sitting on about $30 billion in cash and equivalents and relying on its business development staff to ferret out buyout opportunities around the globe. The company is "more energetic about being out there," Meline told Bloomberg, but it's being careful to pursue only targets that jibe with its core strengths.

"The hardest thing to do when you have money in the bank is to be disciplined," Meline said.

Amgen joins a group of Big Biotechs with major cash reserves and eyes on M&A. Gilead Sciences ($GILD) and Biogen ($BIIB) have said they're looking outside their own walls for new drugs, citing the downturn in biopharma price tags as an opportunity to pick up promising assets on the cheap.

Amgen's open discussion of dealmaking follows a November Financial Times report that the company was looking for acquisitions in the $10 billion range, spurring market rumors that presaged the firm's current buyout scouting.

- read the Bloomberg story