Buzz: Is Bayer looking to buy Onyx Pharma?

Reuters reported today that Bayer is looking to close a multibillion-euro acquisition deal, quoting sources who say that an announcement could be "imminent." And investors took one look at the news and started to bid up the share price of Onyx Pharmaceuticals--a close partner of Bayer's on Nexavar with a big stake in some promising late-stage cancer drugs.

San Francisco-based Onyx ($ONXX) has been at the center of persistent buyout rumors since last fall, when it reportedly brought in bankers to scout a strategic deal. And it would be a perfect fit for Bayer, which would like to have carfilzomib in its portfolio when the FDA hits the July 27 PDUFA date on the potential blockbuster multiple myeloma drug. Bayer also was forced to settle up with Onyx on regorafenib, a close cousin to Nexavar that Onyx now has a 20% stake in.

It's pure speculation, of course, but it's a sensible enough theory to investors, who bid up Onyx shares 8.5% today.

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers has done nothing to squelch the buyout rumors in recent months. "Every company of our size is looking for acquisition opportunities," he told reporters recently. "You have to do it to remain competitive."

M&A has been a key theme in the past few weeks, with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) looking to acquire Human Genome Sciences ($HGSI), Roche ($RHHBY) wrestling with a frustrated bid for Illumina ($ILMN), a much discussed but never confirmed attempt by Bristol-Myers Squibb to acquire Amylin and AstraZeneca's ($AZN) move to snap up Ardea Biosciences ($RDEA) in a scramble for new drug programs. There's no sign of the wave evaporating anytime soon.

Carfilzomib has an interesting history. Originally developed at Proteolix, a biotech run by Susan Molineaux, Onyx acquired it in an $851 million deal. Onyx also lists PD 0332991, a mid-stage drug, in its pipeline. 

- here's the story from Reuters

Special Report: Carfilzomib – Top 10 Late-Stage Cancer Drugs – 2012