Which biotech will be the next to get swept away in the M&A wave?

Bristol-Myers' ($BMY) pact to buy Amylin ($AMLN) is the fifth biotech buyout--or attempted buyout--to fall in the billion dollar-plus category so far this year. And analysts as well as investors are buzzing over rumors and market scuttlebutt as they try to ride the wave of premiums that are being paid by the Big Pharma lineup desperate to bulk up pipelines and product offerings.

The buyers are certainly hungry.

For months now AstraZeneca ($AZN) has made no secret of the fact that it is in the hunt for deals. AstraZeneca agreed to buy Ardea a couple of months ago for $1.26 billion--and it's ready for more. The deal structure adopted by AstraZeneca in the Amylin pact "reduced the total capital cost and gives us the flexibility to do pipeline development and look for on-market products," interim CEO Simon Lowth tells the Financial Times. "There is considerable opportunity out there."

Seamus Fernandez at Leerink Swann is looking for AstraZeneca to make good on its promise with another M&A deal. And he tells Bloomberg that Pfizer ($PFE) and Merck ($MRK) are likely to step up to take a swing at a blockbuster deal as well.

"We are on the cusp of the next consolidation wave," Fernandez told the business news wire. "There just isn't enough top-line growth in the industry."  

The M&A surge is also keeping analysts busy projecting which biotech is likely to find itself in the cross hairs of a Big Pharma suitor. Piper Jaffrays' picks: BioMarin ($BMRN), Affymax ($AFFY), Theravance ($THRX) and Rigel ($RIGL).

With this much smoke, it seems likely that we'll see some more fire on the M&A front. But clear vision will also be in short supply.

- here's the story from the Financial Times
- here's the Bloomberg report

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