Basilea CEO Open to U.S. Bidders Seeking Lower Swiss Tax

Basilea Pharmaceutica, an antibiotic producer with a market value exceeding $1.1 billion, is open to being bought by a U.S. company seeking a Swiss location to reduce taxes, said Chief Executive Officer Ronald Scott.

“A Swiss company and a Swiss holding lends itself to these transactions,” Scott said in a telephone interview today, declining to reveal whether Basel-based Basilea has received any approaches. “We are open to structures that create value for our shareholders and also create the most value for our assets.”

Basilea is preparing to introduce its first product, the antibiotic Zevtera, in Germany during the second half of this year and in other European countries in 2015, under an agreement with Quintiles Transnational Holdings Inc. The company may not be profitable until 2016, Scott said.

At least two U.S. drugmakers this year have pursued deals that would let them reduce taxes by moving their legal addresses. AbbVie Inc. agreed to buy Shire Plc for $55 billion and said the combined company’s tax domicile will be in the U.K. London-based AstraZeneca spurned a $117 billion offer from Pfizer Inc. President Barack Obama has said that U.S. companies seeking such deals to circumvent taxes are “unpatriotic” and the Treasury Department has said it’s reviewing a range of options to discourage them.

“People are a little cautious about what that might mean,” Scott said. “Certainly these megamergers will come under political scrutiny. Maybe the smaller ones can still take place.”

Confirmed Forecast

Basilea share rose as much as 6.4 percent, the biggest intraday jump since May 13. The stock was up 5.1 percent at 100.8 Swiss francs as of 12:38 p.m. in Zurich, paring the stock’s decline to 4.4 percent this year and giving the company a market value of 1.05 billion francs ($1.16 billion).

Basilea confirmed its forecast today for operating expenses in 2014 of 8 million francs to 9 million francs on average each month. It also predicted an operating loss of 4 million francs to 5 million francs on average each month.