Novartis, Pfizer Said to Be Out of Bidding for Onyx

Novartis AG and Pfizer Inc. won’t bid for Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., the maker of cancer drugs, leaving Amgen Inc. with only one possible rival bidder remaining, according to people familiar with the situation.

Onyx’s current valuation makes it too expensive for Novartis, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Pfizer recently backed away from making a bid and is no longer doing due diligence, said one of the people. London-based AstraZeneca Plc is still doing due diligence, that person said.

Novartis, AstraZeneca and New York-based Pfizer had expressed interest in South San Francisco, California-based Onyx, the maker of Kyprolis, a blood cancer drug approved last year for some patients. Amgen upped its initial $120-a-share bid to $130 a share last week, a person familiar with the matter said then. If AstraZeneca doesn’t bid, Amgen, the world’s biggest biotechnology company by sales, would have no competition.

Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, still has people doing due diligence at Onyx, one of the people said. None of the other companies, including AstraZeneca, has made a bid to rival Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen’s $130-a-share offer, the person said.

Onyx is involved with several potential purchasers, Chief Executive Officer N. Anthony Coles said Aug. 9.

Lori Melancon, a spokeswoman for Onyx, said the company wouldn’t comment on rumors and speculation. Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff, Pfizer spokeswoman Joan Campion and AstraZeneca spokeswoman Esra Erkal-Paler declined to comment.

Onyx declined less than 1 percent to $124.88 at the close in New York, giving the company a market value of about $9.16 billion.

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