Prefer a Swiss tax rate? Basilea chief says he's ready to parley

A few weeks ago the FDA officially barred Basilea's new antibiotic ceftobiprole from the U.S. markets, sticking with its demand for two late-stage studies before it offers a regulatory green light for marketing. So today Basilea CEO Ronald Scott offered that the next best step for the biotech may be to just sell the Basel-based company to a U.S.-based biopharma company interested in a quick tax inversion deal that would allow a buyer the chance of trading American taxes for a sweeter deal in Switzerland.

Scott, a Swiss national as well as the former CFO, has been signaling his interest in a deal of some kind for awhile now. Ceftobiprole is approved in Europe and beginning an H2 rollout, starting in Germany. But Scott noted recently that with the FDA sticking by its decision that it would need to see a second batch of confirmatory data, there would be no new study without a partner to cover the tab.

Now, while most companies play coy about selling the company and swiftly reject initial overtures as an insulting lowball offer, Scott is ready to talk terms with interested bidders.

"A Swiss company and a Swiss holding lends itself to these transactions," Scott told Bloomberg in an interview. "We are open to structures that create value for our shareholders and also create the most value for our assets."

Pfizer ($PFE) may have been unsuccessful--at least initially--in its effort to buy AstraZeneca ($AZN) in a deal that only seemed to make sense to analysts as a straightforward tax dodge: dump the U.S. tax man and his high rates in exchange for the much lower U.K. assessment for corporations. But the pharma giant shoved tax inversions right into the center stage of global biopharma finance. And AbbVie ($ABBV) moved fast to scoop up Shire ($SHPG) in the sudden rush that followed. Now Treasury officials are threatening to find a swift administrative remedy to block the gambit. But Scott says smaller fish like Basilea--with a market cap north of $1 billion--may still escape any net put out by the feds.

Scott tells Bloomberg: "Certainly these megamergers will come under political scrutiny. Maybe the smaller ones can still take place."

- here's the story from Bloomberg

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