UCB Falls Most in Six Months as UBS Says Takeover Unlikely

UCB SA fell the most in six months in Brussels trading after UBS AG recommended selling the shares, saying the drugmaker is unlikely to be acquired.

Sales of UCB’s Cimzia drug for rheumatoid arthritis also may be threatened by a pill under development by Pfizer Inc., Andrew Whitney, an analyst at UBS in London, wrote in a report today. He cut the stock to “sell” from “neutral.”

“Although an acquisition of UCB is theoretically possible, we see it as unlikely in the near term,” he wrote. The company’s founding family remains the largest shareholder, and it has an agreement with other shareholders that effectively give it control over the company, Whitney wrote.

UCB on Oct. 14 rose the most in 17 months on speculation that it may be a target for drugmakers seeking protection from the expected loss of sales when their products lose patent exclusivity. Today, the stock sank 70 cents, or 2.6 percent, to 26.15 euros at 10:45 a.m. in Brussels. Earlier, it fell as much as 3.8 percent, the biggest intraday decline since May 7.

The Pfizer treatment, tasocitinib, reduced pain and inflammation for 71 percent of patients in a study released Nov. 7 that may help the company supplant injectable drugs such as Cimzia with $12 billion in yearly sales. Pfizer plans to complete four more studies in the first half of next year before seeking U.S. clearance.

Financiere de Tubize SA, a holding company controlled by the family of UCB founder Emmanuel Janssen, owns 36 percent of the company’s stock. Tubize has agreements with other shareholders, including Banque DeGroof and KBC Bank NV, to act together, giving it a bloc of 49 percent.

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