Report: Ikaria eyes $2B sale after up-and-down run

Three years after pulling the plug on an IPO, New Jersey drugmaker Ikaria has put itself on the market, Reuters reports, looking to cash out for $2 billion or more.

The company's private equity owners, including New Mountain Capital and Venrock Associates, have started soliciting buyout offers for Ikaria, Reuters sources say, enlisting Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse for help.

The company draws most of its revenue from Inomax, an FDA-approved treatment for newborns with hypoxic respiratory failure. Ikaria has a pipeline of critical care treatments, including two Phase II hypertension treatments and a Phase III kidney failure drug.

Today's Ikaria is an amalgam of the same-named drug developer that made 2005's Fierce 15 and INO Therapeutics, a biotech Ikaria's owners picked up for $670 million in 2007, eventually merging the two.

Ikaria banked about $361 million in the 12 months ended in March, according to Reuters, and while many of its key patents are due to expire in the next year or so, the company still has some long-term intellectual property related to heart failure thanks to a 2009 deal with Israel's BiolineRx worth up to $285 million.

Back in 2010, Ikaria had plans to jump on the Nasdaq in a $200 million IPO, but the company scuttled the effort that winter, citing troubling market conditions.

Just weeks ago Clovis Oncology ($CLVS) tried much the same gambit, looking for a high-dollar buyout offer after seeing its share price soar. But potential Big Pharma buyers reportedly didn't bite at the price tag Clovis had in mind. While Amgen ($AMGN) recently bought Onyx ($ONXX) in a deal valued at close to $10 billion, buyers have been very choosy about what they want to acquire and they price they're willing to pay. And just because a lot of biotech stocks have been booming as investors crowd into the field, pharma isn't necessarily seeing the same value.

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