Swedish Orphan Said to Be Open to Sale Amid Boom in Drug Deals

Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB, the maker of treatments for rare diseases, is open to a potential takeover after its stock reached an all-time high amid a boom in pharmaceutical deals, people familiar with the matter said.

Swedish Orphan, whose biggest shareholder is Investor AB, has held on-and-off again talks with potential buyers since last year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because deliberations are private. The Stockholm-based company is currently valued at about 30.8 billion Swedish krona ($3.56 billion).

The drugmaker, better known as Sobi, could attract interest from large companies including Pfizer Inc., which has an existing partnership with the Swedish firm, said the people. Biogen Inc., which also partners with Sobi, could look at parts or all as well, they said.

Sobi has been working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for some time as it prepares for potential approaches, the people said. There is no guarantee that any takeover will happen and it was unclear whether talks are ongoing, they said.

Representatives for Pfizer, Sobi, Investor AB and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Biogen couldn’t be immediately reached by phone outside of regular business hours.

Investor AB, the investment vehicle controlled by Sweden’s billionaire Wallenberg family, owns about 40 percent of Sobi’s stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Deals Activity

Sobi manufactures drugs including arthritis treatment Kineret and Orfadin, for a rare metabolic disorder. It has an existing partnership with Pfizer to manufacture ReFacto, a hemophilia drug, and is working with Biogen to develop other blood clotting treatments.

This year has seen record activity for mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry. Mylan NV this week went forward with a hostile $31.2 billion bid for fellow drugmaker Perrigo Co., opting to take its offer directly to shareholders rather than accept a separate takeover proposal from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Pfizer has been on the hunt for acquisitions to build its drug pipeline since failing in its pursuit of the U.K.’s AstraZeneca Plc last year. Chief Executive Officer Ian Read said earlier this year that the company, based in New York, was continuing to look at opportunities even after agreeing to buy Hospira Inc. for $17 billion.

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